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SHIROBOKOVA v. CSA CZECH AIRLINES

July 7, 2005.

VIKTORIYA SHIROBOKOVA, Plaintiff,
v.
CSA CZECH AIRLINES, INC. a foreign corporation for profit, and DELTA AIRLINES, INC, a foreign corporation for profit, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIDNEY STEIN, District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Viktoriya Shirobokova brings this suit to recover damages for injuries she suffered on a CSA Czech Airlines, Inc. ("CSA") flight from New York to the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. She has asserted a Warsaw Convention claim, as well as several state law claims against CSA and Delta Airlines, Inc. ("Delta"), which had a code sharing agreement with CSA that applied to the relevant flight. CSA has moved to dismiss Shirobokova's state law claims. Given that the Warsaw Convention preempts these state law claims, CSA's motion is granted. Delta has moved to dismiss all claims against it. That motion is also granted because Shirobokova's state law claims are preempted by the Warsaw Convention, and because the Complaint does not state a claim for relief pursuant to the Warsaw Convention against Delta in light of the allegation that CSA operated the flight at issue.

I. Background

  The relevant facts alleged in the complaint are as follows: On February 5, 2002, Shirobokova left Minnesota, where she resides, to fly to Russia.*fn1 (Compl. ¶¶ 2-3). She flew from Minneapolis to Cincinnati on a Delta flight, from Cincinnati to New York on another Delta flight, from New York to Prague on a CSA flight and from Prague to St. Petersburg on another CSA flight. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 5). During the New York to Prague flight, Shirobokova suffered injuries, including "a traumatic brain injury, damaged and bulging discs in her spine, [and] a fractured rib," when the airplane encountered severe turbulence during the flight. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 37).

  Shirobokova alleges that on the New York to Prague flight she was a passenger of both Delta and CSA, because the flight was denominated CSA flight 051 and Delta flight 7300, as a result of a code sharing agreement between the airlines. (Id. ¶¶ 2, 11). Due to this code sharing agreement, Delta and CSA allegedly had an "identity of interest" and were "alter egos of one another." (Id. ¶ 11).

  II. Legal Standard

  When reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for relief pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a district court may only dismiss a plaintiff's claim if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Drake v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 147 F.3d 169, 171 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957)) (quotation marks omitted). A court must treat all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. See Ganino v. Citizens Utils. Co., 228 F.3d 154, 161 (2d Cir. 2000). The complaint need only provide "`a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512, 122 S. Ct. 992, 152 L. Ed. 2d 1 (2002) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)).

  In connection with its motion to dismiss, Delta has submitted a variety of evidentiary material. Shirobokova aptly urges that if the Court were to consider that material, Delta's motion would have to be converted to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. However, the Court has excluded all evidentiary material and has considered only the allegations in the Complaint, thereby rendering conversion of Delta's motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment unnecessary. See Friedl v. City of New York., 210 F.3d 79, 83 (2d Cir. 2000).

  III. Analysis

  A. State Law Claims

  Shirobokova brings state law claims against defendants for negligence, breaches of warranty and negligent misrepresentation. All of those state law claims are specifically preempted by the terms of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air, 49 Stat. 3000, T.S. No. 876 (1934), reprinted in note following 49 U.S.C. § 40105, commonly known as the Warsaw Convention,*fn2 because they arise from injuries Shirobokova suffered during an international flight.

  The Warsaw Convention "created a comprehensive liability system to serve as the exclusive mechanism for remedying injuries suffered in the course of the `international transportation of persons, baggage, or goods performed by aircraft.'" King v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 284 F.3d 352, 356-57 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Warsaw Convention art. 1 and citing El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd. v. Tseng, 525 U.S. 155, 169-70, 119 S. Ct. 662, 142 L. Ed. 2d 576 (1999)); see also In re Air Crash at Belle Harbor, NY, on November 12, 2001, 02 MDL 1448, 02 Civ. 6746, 02 Civ. 6747, 2003 WL 21032034, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. May 5, 2003). Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention provides that "[t]he carrier shall be liable for damage sustained in the event of . . . bodily injury suffered by a passenger, if the accident which caused the damage so sustained took place on board the aircraft. . . ." Article 24 of the Warsaw Convention establishes the exclusivity of the cause of action contained in Article 17, providing that "any action for damages, however founded, can only be brought subject to the conditions and limits set out in this convention." The preemptive effect of Article 24 extends to all state law claims relating to personal injuries sustained during international passenger air travel. See King, 284 F.3d at 358.

  Here, Shirobokova seeks redress for injuries that she suffered during "[a]n `accident' . . . within the meaning of Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention" on her flight from New York to Prague. (Compl. ¶ 17). Accordingly, her state law claims ...


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