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Sanches-Naek v. Tap Portugal, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 2, 2017




         Ester Sanches-Naek, her husband Rashid Hamid, and their minor son Abdul Naek Hamid (“Plaintiffs”), bring this action against TAP Portugal, Inc. (“TAP”) (“Defendant”), alleging various claims under the laws of Connecticut and under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs' claims arise from an alleged incident that occurred after they boarded an international TAP flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1.

         Defendant now moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint in its entirety, arguing that the Complaint is precluded by the Montreal Convention and by the Airline Deregulation Act (“ADA”), 29 U.S.C. § 41714(b). ECF No. 20. Oral argument on this motion was held on April 27, 2017. ECF No. 32. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss with prejudice.


         On or around July 28, 2016, Plaintiffs booked three round trip tickets with TAP. Compl. ¶ 4. Plaintiffs' first flight, TAP Flight 208, was scheduled to depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK”) to Lisbon, Portugal on August 3, 2016 at 11:30 PM. Id. Plaintiffs' itinerary allegedly included a connecting flight from Lisbon to Casablanca, Morocco and then a returning flight from Porto, Portugal to Lisbon and one from Lisbon to JFK. Id. Plaintiffs allege that they had also prepaid for multiple hotel reservations and for ground transportation to and from each airport, each hotel, and each destination they planned to visit. Id. Mr. Hamid and Mr. Naek Hamid were flying first class. Id. ¶ 6. Ms. Sanches-Naek was flying in economy class. Id. ¶ 8.

         Before boarding, Plaintiffs were allegedly granted access to TAP's VIP Lounge in the airport terminal and Ms. Sanches-Naek and Mr. Hamid each allegedly received one complimentary wine beverage in the VIP Lounge. Id. ¶¶ 6-7. Plaintiffs allege that they did not consume any other alcoholic beverages before boarding their flight and that none of them were intoxicated. Id. ¶ 7.

         Plaintiffs allege that they boarded TAP Flight 208 together. Id. ¶ 8. Ms. Sanches-Naek allegedly proceeded to her assigned seat in economy class, seat 8D, which was in the first row of the economy class section of the plane, only one row away from the first class section of the plane. Id. ¶ 9. Mr. Hamid, her husband, and Mr. Naek Hamid, their minor son, proceeded to their seats in the business class or first class section, seats 2A and 2D. Id. ¶ 8.

         After Ms. Sanches-Naek placed her carry-on item in the overhead compartment, she alleges that she realized that she was carrying her husband and son's boarding passes and passports. Id. ¶ 9. She allegedly realized that they might need these documents immediately. Id. She allegedly proceeded towards the front of the plane and the first class section in order to return her husband and son's travel documents and to assist them with placing their carry-on baggage in the overhead compartments. Id.

         Plaintiffs allege that, as Ms. Sanches-Naek approached her husband and son's seats, she observed a male TAP flight attendant “rudely and loudly berating and screaming” at them. Id. ¶ 10. When Ms. Sanches-Naek allegedly tried to “ascertain why the male flight attendant was screaming at her elderly husband and minor child and before she could explain why she was in First Class, ” the flight attendant allegedly began screaming at her as well, “ordering her to return back to the Economy Class section of the airplane and call[ing] Global Security.” Id. When the Global Security officer arrived, he allegedly advised Plaintiffs to leave the plane, which they did. Id. ¶ 11.

         After Plaintiffs left TAP Flight 208, and while they waited in the airport terminal to retrieve their luggage, TAP allegedly also summoned the Port Authority Police Department (“PAPD”) and five PAPD officers allegedly arrived at the terminal. Id. ¶ 11. The PAPD officers allegedly determined that TAP had misinformed them of the nature of the incident and “that there was no legitimate reason for [TAP] to have summoned the police.” Id.

         Plaintiffs allege that this incident resulted in them missing TAP Flight 208, their flight to Lisbon. Id. ¶ 12. This allegedly resulted in Plaintiffs missing all of their subsequent flights and therefore “completely ruined” their vacation. Id.


         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) is designed “merely to assess the legal feasibility of a complaint, not to assay the weight of evidence which might be offered in support thereof.” Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors of Color Tile, Inc. v. Coopers & Lybrand, LLP, 322 F.3d 147, 158 (2d Cir. 2003) (internal citations omitted). When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a court must accept the material facts alleged in the complaint as true, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff, and decide whether it is plausible that the plaintiff has a valid claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); In re NYSE Specialists Sec. Litig., 503 F.3d 89, 95 (2d Cir. 2007).

         A plaintiff's “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” and assert a cause of action with enough heft to show entitlement to relief and “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570. A claim is facially plausible if “the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Although “detailed factual allegations” are not required, a complaint must offer more than “labels and conclusions, ” “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, ” or “naked assertion [s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-57. Plausibility at the pleading stage is nonetheless distinct from probability, and “a well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of [the claims] is improbable, and . . . recovery is very remote and unlikely.” Id. at 556 (internal quotation marks omitted).


         Plaintiffs bring various claims under Connecticut state law, including for “intentional misrepresentation”, “negligence”, “libel” and “defamation of character”, “slander”, “malicious prosecution, ” “elder abuse”, “breach of contract”, “violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing”, “intentional infliction of emotional distress”, and “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” Compl. ¶¶ 13-63. Plaintiffs also bring claims under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, alleging “discriminatory practices and treatment.” Id. ΒΆΒΆ 37-45. Defendants ...

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