United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Annemarie Rivera had a bad flight experience with defendant
JetBlue Airways Corporation. On one flight she had to sit in
a middle seat. On another she had an allergic reaction to a
couple of dogs. All this happened despite her advance request
for medical accommodations.
has now sued defendant, alleging state law claims for
disability discrimination and unfair trade practices. I will
grant JetBlue's motion to dismiss. I conclude that there
is no private right of action for disability discrimination
under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-64 and that plaintiff's
claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act
(CUTPA) is preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act.
Accordingly, I will dismiss the complaint with leave to amend
as described in more detail below.
to the complaint, plaintiff booked a flight from JFK to LAX
on August 5, 2016, and then a return trip several days later
on August 9, 2016. She spoke by telephone to a JetBlue
representative who “took detailed notes” of
plaintiff's “medical accommodation requests,
” and assured plaintiff that “she would receive
medical accommodations and disability seating.” Doc.
#1-2 at 2-3. These disabilities included a
“life-threatening disability” of a severe allergy
to “domestic fur-bearing animals” and a
“need to get up and move about during the
plaintiff arrived at JFK on August 5, she was told that
JetBlue had no record of her requests for medical
accommodations and that there were no available seats outside
of First Class for which she would have to pay an upgrade
fee. Id. at 3. Eventually she was allowed to board
the flight, but she was relegated to a center seat from which
she could not get up and move around as her medical needs
went worse on plaintiff's return trip to New York. When
she arrived at LAX, she was again told that no seat had been
reserved for her. Ibid. She paid $90 for an upgrade
to a seat capable of accommodating her medical needs, but
nonetheless was not given disability seating, supposedly
because she had neither a wheelchair nor a leg brace.
Id. at 4. Shortly after departure, plaintiff had an
allergic reaction to two dogs in the seat directly in front
of her. Ibid. Her repeated requests for help were
ignored, and she became so ill that she required
complaint alleges two counts. Count One alleges a violation
of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-64, which prohibits
discrimination in places of public accommodation. Doc. #1-2
at 4. Count Two alleges a violation of the Connecticut Unfair
Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 42-110b. Doc. #1-2 at 5. Defendant has moved to
dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
background principles governing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss are well established. The Court must accept as true
all factual matters alleged in a complaint, although a
complaint may not survive unless the facts it recites are
enough to state plausible grounds for relief. See,
e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009); Mastafa v. Chevron Corp., 770 F.3d 170, 177
(2d Cir. 2014). Although this “plausibility”
requirement is “not akin to a probability requirement,
” it “asks for more than a sheer possibility that
a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678. Because the focus must be on what facts a
complaint alleges, a court is “not bound to accept as
true a legal conclusion couched as a factual
allegation” or “to accept as true allegations
that are wholly conclusory.” Krys v. Pigott,
749 F.3d 117, 128 (2d Cir. 2014). In short, my role in
reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) is to
determine if the complaint-apart from any of its conclusory
allegations-alleges enough facts to state a plausible claim
One - Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-64
argues that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-64 does not provide a
private right of action, and therefore that plaintiff's
claim must be dismissed. As far as I am aware, no Connecticut
appellate court has ever considered this question. But every
Connecticut trial court to consider the issue has
concluded-in reliance on the lack of express language
creating a private cause of action and the presence of
alternative government enforcement measures-that the statute
does not give rise to a private right of action. See
Jacques v. Knights of Columbus, 2013 WL 6129381, at *1-2
(Conn. Super. Ct. 2013) (citing cases); Valenzuolo v.
City of New Haven, 2012 WL 4344386, at *2 (D. Conn.
2012) (citing cases). I conclude for the same reasons that
there is no private right of action under Conn. Gen. Stat.
§ 46a-64. Accordingly, I will dismiss Count One of the
Two - CUTPA
plaintiff's CUTPA claim, defendant argues that it is
preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act of 1979
(“ADA”). I agree. The ADA broadly provides that
“a State . . . may not enact or enforce a law,
regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of
law related to a price, route, or service of an air ...