such a conferral of jurisdiction is constitutional.
I. Motion to Dismiss Standards
On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a court
typically must accept the material facts alleged in the
complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences in a
plaintiffs favor. Grandon v. Merrill Lynch & Co.,
147 F.3d 184, 188 (2d Cir. 1998). A court should not dismiss a complaint
for failure to state a claim unless "it appears beyond doubt
that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his
claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); accord
Gant v. Wallingford Bd. of Educ., 69 F.3d 669, 673 (2d Cir.
1995). Dismissal is proper when the plaintiff fails to plead the
basic elements of a cause of action. See Wright v. Giuliani,
No. 99 Civ. 10091(WHP), 2000 WL 777940, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. June 14,
II. Principles of Statutory Interpretation
When interpreting a statute's terms, courts first must look to
the language of the statute itself. See Auburn Housing Auth. v.
Martinez, 277 F.3d 138, 143 (2d Cir. 2002) (citing Mallard v.
United States Dist. Court, 490 U.S. 296, 300, 109 S.Ct. 1814,
104 L.Ed.2d 318 (1989) and In re Boodrow, 126 F.3d 43, 49 (2d
Cir. 1997)); see also Barnhart v. Sigmon Coal Co., Inc.,
534 U.S. 438, ___, 122 S.Ct. 941, 950, 151 L.Ed.2d 908 (2002)
(statutory construction begins with analyzing the plain meaning
of the statute's language). "Where the statutory language
provides a clear answer, it ends there as well." Hughes
Aircraft Co. v. Jacobson, 525 U.S. 432, 438, 119 S.Ct. 755, 142
L.Ed.2d 881 (1999) (citation omitted); accord Natural Res. Def.
Council Inc. v. Muszynski, 268 F.3d 91, 98 (2d Cir. 2001).
If the statutory language is ambiguous, a court may resort to
the canons of statutory interpretation and to the statute's
legislative history to resolve the ambiguity. Auburn Housing,
277 F.3d at 143-44. "Statutory construction . . . is a holistic
endeavor. The meaning of a particular section in a statute can
be understood in context with and by reference to the whole
statutory scheme, by appreciating how sections relate to one
another. In other words, the preferred meaning of a statutory
provision is one that is consonant with the rest of the
statute." Auburn Housing, 277 F.3d at 144 (citations omitted);
see also Robinson v. Shell Oil Co., 519 U.S. 337, 341, 117
S.Ct. 843, 136 L.Ed.2d 808 (1997) ("The plainness or ambiguity
of statutory language is determined by reference to the language
itself, the specific context in which that language is used, and
the broader context of that statute as a whole."); Davis v.
Michigan Dept. of Treasury, 489 U.S. 803, 809, 109 S.Ct. 1500,
103 L.Ed.2d 891 (1989) ("It is a fundamental canon of statutory
construction that the words of a statute must be read in their
context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory
scheme."); Castellano v. City of New York, 142 F.3d 58, 67 (2d
Cir. 1998) ("Where the language is ambiguous, [courts] focus on
the `broader context' and the `primary purpose' of the
"[O]nce the tyranny of literalness is rejected, all relevant
considerations for giving a rational content to the words become
operative. A restrictive meaning for what appear to be plain
words may be indicated by the Act as a whole [or] by the
persuasive gloss of legislative history. . . ." United States
v. Witkovich, 353 U.S. 194, 199, 77 S.Ct. 779, 1 L.Ed.2d 765
(1957). Courts should resort to legislative history if an open
question exists "as to the meaning of a word or phrase in a
statute, or more
generally because of that statute's silence on an issue of
fundamental importance to its correct application." Jones v.
Senkowski, No. 00-2145, 2002 WL 246451, at *2 (2d Cir. Feb. 21,
2002); see also A. Raymond Randolph, Dictionaries, Plain
Meaning, and Context in Statutory Interpretation, 17 Harv. J.
L. & Pub. Pol'y 43, 43 (1988) ("Legislative history may be
useful in filling the gap. The history can supply information
about how the statute is expected to operate, what subjects it
addresses, what problems it seeks to solve, what objectives it
tries to accomplish, and what means it employs to reach those
objectives — all of which the judge may draw upon in testing his
tentative construction of the statutory language.").
When the statute under review creates jurisdiction for a
federal action, courts must construe that statute "with
precision and with fidelity to the terms by which Congress has
expressed its wishes." Bread Political Action Comm. v. Fed.
Election Committee, 455 U.S. 577, 580, 102 S.Ct. 1235, 71
L.Ed.2d 432 (1982); see also Conoco Inc. v. Skinner,
781 F. Supp. 298, 303 (Del. 1991) (jurisdictional statutes must be
precisely construed to reflect Congress's intent because
judicial power is dependent on the Constitution or such enabling
III. The Air Stabilization Act
Canada Life asserts that Section 408(b)(3)'s broad language
encompassing "any claim . . . resulting from or relating to"
necessitates a finding of jurisdiction. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp. at
9-10.) However, as Canada Life recognizes, the scope of Section
403(b)(3) cannot be determined without looking beyond that
specific subsection. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp. at 10-12 (considering
Section 403(b)(3)'s statutory context).) Indeed, when read "in
context with and by reference to the whole statutory scheme,"
Auburn Housing, 277 F.3d at 144, Section 408(b)(3)'s language
is sufficiently ambiguous to warrant consulting its legislative
history. Examined in its overall context, and against the
backdrop of its legislative history, it is clear that Congress
did not intend Section 408(b)(3) to confer jurisdiction over the
dispute at issue here.
Congress promulgated Section 408 as part of Title IV of the
Air Stabilization Act. As intimated by Title IV's alternative
title, the "September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001,"
the litigation that Title IV encompasses concerns individuals'
lawsuits for damages. See Pub.L. No. 10742, § 401; see also
Connecticut v. United States Dep't of the Interior,
228 F.3d 82, 88 (2d Cir. 2000) (noting that although courts may not rely
on chapter titles to define statutory subsections, in the event
that a statute's language is ambiguous, "resort to chapter
titles, as well as to other tools of statutory interpretation is
Congress enacted Title IV "to provide compensation to any
individual (or relatives of a deceased individual) who was
physically injured or killed as a result of the
terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001." Air
Stabilization Act § 403. A Title IV "claimant" is any
individual filing a claim for compensation under Section
405(a)(1). Air Stabilization Act § 402(3) (emphasis added). In
addition, Section 405 promulgates a detailed administrative
procedure for determining whether such individuals are "eligible
individual[s]," and if so, the amount of compensation to which
that claimant is entitled. Air Stabilization Act § 405(b)(1).
Claimants are required to complete a specially developed claim
(i) information from the claimant concerning the
physical harm that the claimant suffered or . . .
information confirming the decedent's death, as a
result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of
September 11, 2001; (ii) information from the
claimant concerning any possible economic and
noneconomic losses that the claimant suffered as a
result of such crashes; and (iii) information
regarding collateral sources of compensation the
claimant has received or is entitled to receive as a
result of such crashes.
Air Stabilization Act § 405(a)(2)(B).
From that information, a "special master" must determine
whether the claimant is an "eligible individual." An "eligible
individual" is defined as
(A) an individual who-(i) was present at the World
Trade Center, . . . the Pentagon . . . or the site of
the aircraft crash at Shanksville, Pennsylvania at
the time, or in the immediate aftermath, of the
terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11,
2001; and (ii) suffered physical harm or death as a
result of such an air crash;
(B) an individual who was a member of the flight crew
or a passenger on [one of the hijacked airliners],
except [for] an individual identified . . . to have
been a participant or conspirator in the
terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11,
2001, or a representative of such individual; or
(C) in the case of a decedent who is an individual
described in subparagraph (A) or (B), the personal
representative of the decedent who files a claim on
behalf of the decedent.
Air Stabilization Act § 405(c)(2). Title IV further provides
that "[n]ot more than one claim may be submitted under [Title
IV] by an individual or on behalf of a deceased individual." Air
Stabilization Act § 405(c)(3).