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Lopez v. Jetblue Airways

August 19, 2010

MARY LOPEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JETBLUE AIRWAYS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Mary Lopez brought this action asserting that JetBlue Airways violated her rights by failing to provide adequate wheelchair assistance when she flew to and from Puerto Rico. JetBlue now moves to dismiss the action for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Oral argument was heard on August 19, 2010. For the reasons stated below, the motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

On July 3, 2009, Lopez and her mother, Santa Ascensio, took JetBlue Flight 727 from JFK Airport to Aguadilla in Puerto Rico. Lopez alleges that as a result of her disability, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, she needed wheelchair assistance to board the flight. She requested wheelchair assistance, but the wheelchair did not arrive until just before the aircraft door closed. Lopez asserts that her "entire foot was swollen and real painful" as a result of the delay and that she suffered "a lot of anguish, anxiety, [and] nightmares" from the incident. Am. Compl. 1.

Lopez and her mother flew back to JFK from Aguadilla on July 10, 2009. Lopez asserts that "two more incidents" occurred on this journey. Am. Compl. 1. First, she claims that she and her mother, who is also disabled, were not provided with wheelchairs in a timely fashion when they arrived at the airport in Aguadilla. Second, Lopez asserts that when she and her mother arrived in New York, they were taken by wheelchair to baggage claim but were not taken to their car.

On July 16, 2009, Lopez filed administrative complaints with the Department of Transportation ("DOT") against JetBlue based on the July 3, 2009 and July 10, 2009 incidents. JetBlue admitted that the wheelchair attendant came late on July 3, 2009, and apologized for the inconvenience. The DOT concluded that JetBlue had violated the federal regulation requiring that air carriers "promptly provide or ensure the provision of assistance requested by or on behalf of passengers with a disability." See 14 C.F.R. § 382.95(a). As for the July 10, 2009 incidents, JetBlue denied any wrongdoing and the DOT decided that it was unable to determine whether JetBlue had violated any regulations. The DOT took no further action against JetBlue with respect to any of the complaints.

DISCUSSION

A. The Standard on a Motion to Dismiss

Motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) test the legal sufficiency of a complaint.

See, e.g., Sims v. Artuz, 230 F.3d 14, 20 (2d Cir. 2000) ("At the Rule 12(b)(6) stage, the issue is not whether a plaintiff is likely to prevail ultimately, but whether the claimant is entitled to offer evidence to support the claims." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Accordingly, I must accept the factual allegations in the complaint as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007) (per curiam), and "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Bolt Elec., Inc. v. City of New York, 53 F.3d 465, 469 (2d Cir. 1995). However, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

In reviewing Lopez's complaint, I am mindful that "a pro se complaint. must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson, 551 U.S at 94 (internal quotation marks omitted). If a liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," I must grant leave to amend it. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d Cir. 2000).

B. The Plaintiff's Claims

Read liberally, Lopez's complaint may be understood to assert that JetBlue is liable under (1) the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986; and (2) Title III of of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. As explained below, however, neither of ...


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