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Ireland v. AMR Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

May 15, 2014

GEORGE IRELAND, Plaintiff,
v.
AMR CORPORATION and AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendants

For George Ireland, Plaintiff: Vivia L. Joseph, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cambria Heights, NY.

For AMR Corporation, Defendant: Michael J. Crowley, LEAD ATTORNEY, Connell Foley LLP, New York, NY.

For American Airlines, Inc., Defendant: Michael J. Crowley, LEAD ATTORNEY, Michael Bojbasa, Connell Foley LLP, New York, NY.

Page 342

OPINION & ORDER

Allyne R. Ross, United States District Judge.

In this action, George Ireland (" plaintiff" or " Ireland" ) seeks damages for injuries he suffered while aboard a flight operated by American Airlines, Inc. (" American" ) between Miami, Florida, and Kingston, Jamaica. American and its parent company, AMR Corporation (jointly, " defendants" ), have moved to dismiss Ireland's complaint on the grounds that he did not commence suit within two years of the date of the flight's arrival in Jamaica as required by the Montreal Convention, which the parties agree governs this action. Plaintiff argues that his time for commencing suit was extended by the defendants' filing for bankruptcy, which resulted in an automatic stay on litigation against defendants. The question that must now be addressed is whether the automatic bankruptcy stay extended plaintiff's two-year period for filing his claim under the Montreal Convention. For the reasons stated below, the court agrees with defendants that the bankruptcy stay did not extend plaintiff's filing period, and their motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

On December 22, 2009, Ireland was a passenger on American Flight 331 between Miami, Florida, and Kingston, Jamaica.[1] Compl., DE #1, ¶ ¶ 11-13, 16-17. Flight 331 was operated by defendants, and the members of the flight crew were American employees. Id. ¶ ¶ 13-14. While landing on Runway 12 at Norman International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica, at approximately 10:22 p.m., Flight 331 ran off the end of the runway.[2] Id. ¶ 18. The aircraft veered off the runway, went through a perimeter fence, crossed a road, and came to rest on a rocky beach approximately 175 feet beyond the end of Runway 12 and approximately 40 feet from the water line. Id. ¶ 22. As a result of its departure from the runway, the aircraft fuselage was broken into three pieces. Id. ¶ 23.

On December 21, 2012, plaintiff filed suit in this action. In his complaint, he alleges that the negligence of defendants and their employees caused the landing accident and that, as a result, he suffered " severe mental anguish, fear of impending death, and . . . severe physical injuries." Id. ¶ ¶ 24-25. He seeks at least $1,000,000 in damages. Id. ¶ 26.

On November 29, 2011, prior to plaintiff's commencing this suit, defendants filed voluntary petitions seeking bankruptcy

Page 343

protection under chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code (11 U.S.C. § 101 et seq) (the " Bankruptcy Code" ). DE #4. As a result, pursuant to the automatic stay provision in section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, the proceedings in this action were stayed upon the action's commencement. In the interim, while the stay remained in effect, plaintiff did not seek relief from the automatic stay. On January 2, 2014, counsel for defendants in this action filed notice that the automatic stay had been lifted effective December 9, 2013. DE #13. Following termination of the stay, the parties were directed to continue with proceedings in this action, and defendants moved to dismiss plaintiff's claims.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review


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