United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING DENYING MOTION TO REMAND AND GRANTING MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Annemarie Rivera alleges that she had a bad flight experience
with defendant JetBlue Airways Corporation. On an outbound
flight from New York to California, Rivera had to sit in a
center seat where she could not get up and move around. On
her return flight to New York, Rivera had an allergic
reaction to a couple of dogs who were near her. And all this
happened, Rivera alleges, even though JetBlue assured Rivera
that she would receive an accommodation after she informed
JetBlue of her medical needs.
has sued JetBlue for breach of contract. Doc. #19. JetBlue
has moved for summary judgment, contending there are no
disputed issues of material fact and they are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Doc. #28. Rivera does not oppose
JetBlue's motion, but has instead moved to remand this
action to state court on the basis of her amended complaint,
which now alleges less than the $75, 000 minimum needed to
sustain federal diversity jurisdiction. Doc. #29.
deny Rivera's motion to remand on the ground that the
Court's diversity jurisdiction may not be ousted by a
change of circumstances that occurs after the initial filing
of an action. I will otherwise grant JetBlue's unopposed
motion for summary judgment on the ground that there are no
genuine issues of fact to support Rivera's claim for
breach of contract. Accordingly, judgment shall enter for
JetBlue on Rivera's contract claim.
following facts are stated in the amended complaint, Doc.
#19, as supplemented by facts set forth in Jet Blue's
Local Rule 56.1 statement of undisputed facts, Doc. #28-1.
resides in Connecticut; JetBlue is an airline incorporated in
Delaware with a principal place of business in New York.
Rivera has three disabilities relevant to air travel: she has
a blood clot disorder, a need to get up and move about during
a flight, and a severe allergy to fur-bearing animals. Rivera
booked a flight from JFK airport in New York to LAX airport
in Los Angeles on August 5, 2016, and then a return trip
several days later on August 9, 2016. When she booked her
flights, she did not note any of these medical conditions,
but on the morning of her JFK-LAX flight, she called JetBlue
and told the representative that she had a blood clot
disorder and a need to get up and walk around the aircraft
during flight. She did not, on this call, alert the
representative about her allergies. The JetBlue agent noted
her medical conditions, but Rivera never expressly asked for
a disability seat, and the JetBlue agent simply noted her
conditions without indicating that Rivera wanted or needed a
believed the agent had promised her a disability
seat, and learned otherwise, to her dismay, only when she
checked in at JFK-by which time the entire flight had been
booked solid. Rivera was assigned a middle seat, which did
not meet her medical needs. Although JetBlue subsequently
upgraded her, for free, to an “Even More Space Seat,
” which was, according to Rivera, also a middle seat.
Nonetheless, Rivera took the seat rather than cancel her
trip, and the outbound flight took off without incident.
problems awaited on the return trip. Rivera, apparently
assuming that the incident at JFK had alerted JetBlue of her
need of a disability seat, discovered upon check-in at LAX
that JetBlue had made no such arrangements and the regular
seats on the return flight were, once again, booked solid.
This time, Rivera paid $90 for an “Even More Space
Seat.” Unfortunately for Rivera, this flight had a new
complication: a standby passenger without a flight
reservation was seated in front of Rivera and carried with
her-unbeknownst to anyone, including JetBlue- two small dogs
in her carry-on baggage. Rivera rapidly had a severe allergic
reaction because of the presence of the dogs and, at her
behest, the flight crew moved the passenger and her dogs to
the rear of the aircraft, away from Rivera. These efforts
were either insufficient or came too late; on her return to
New Haven, Rivera had to be immediately hospitalized.
initially filed this action against JetBlue in Connecticut
state court, claiming JetBlue engaged in disability
discrimination under State law and violated the Connecticut
Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). JetBlue timely removed
the action to this Court on grounds of federal diversity
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and then
JetBlue moved to dismiss Rivera's claims. I granted the
motion to dismiss, concluding that Rivera did not have a
private right of action under the state disability law and
that her CUTPA claim was preempted by federal law. See
Rivera v. JetBlue Airways Corp., 2018 WL 264735 (D.
Conn. 2018), but granted Rivera leave to file an amended
complaint alleging a cause of action for breach of contract.
Id. at 2.
duly filed an amended complaint, alleging a single claim for
breach of contract and seeking compensatory damages in an
amount greater than $15, 000 but less than $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs. JetBlue has moved for
summary judgment on this contract claim. Rivera has not
opposed this motion but instead has moved to remand the
action to Connecticut state court on the ground that, because
her amended complaint expressly seeks damages for less than
$75, 000, the Court does not have diversity jurisdiction.
has moved for summary judgment. Rivera has moved to remand
this action to Connecticut state court. Because the motion to
remand goes to this Court's jurisdiction, I will first
address Rivera's motion before addressing JetBlue's
motion for summary judgment.