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Young v. Southwest Airlines Co.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 3, 2017



          LaSHANN DeARCY HALL, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Jacqueline Young brings this action for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims against Defendant Southwest Airlines Company. Defendant moves pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 for partial summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiff's damages claims.[1] For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's motion is hereby granted.


         I. The Hard Landing

         On July 22, 2013, Plaintiff was a passenger on Southwest Airlines Flight 345. (See Pl.'s 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 44-28.) Upon arrival at LaGuardia Airport, the plane experienced what the parties have described as a “hard landing.” (Id. ¶ 1.) According to Plaintiff, the plane landed “out of control, ” “nose first, ” and “careened down the runway.” (Opp'n 1-2, ECF No. 44-29.) In any event, following the July 22, 2013 incident, Plaintiff claimed injuries resulting in pain to her left shoulder, lower back and/or hip, [3] and neck, as well as headaches, hearing loss, and nausea. (Pl.'s 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 2, 30; Crowley Decl. Ex. A, at 47:15-23, ECF No. 44-2; Crowley Decl. Ex. E, at 3, ECF No. 44-6.) There is no evidence in the record indicating that Plaintiff sought immediate medical attention following the incident. However, approximately one week later, Plaintiff underwent x-rays, which indicated “early degenerative disk disease” but showed no fractures. (Crowley Decl. Ex. R, ECF No. 44-19.)

         Plaintiff instituted this action in Queens County Supreme Court on August 2, 2013. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.)[4] In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendant's actions she was “severely injured, bruised, and wounded, suffered, still suffers, and will continue to suffer for some time great physical pain and great bodily injuries and became sick, sore, lame and disabled and so remained for a considerable length of time.” (Compl. ¶ 23, ECF No. 1.)

         II. Plaintiff's Prior Medical History

         Plaintiff has been classified as disabled for over sixteen years. (See Pl.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 15.) Indeed, Plaintiff has been involved in a series of accidents and has suffered from numerous medical conditions that predate the July 2013 incident. In 2000, Plaintiff fell from a catwalk, injuring both of her knees and her left shoulder. (Id.) Since at least 2001, Plaintiff has complained of neck pain, persistent back pain, and headaches due to chronic medical conditions, including hypertension and anemia. (Id. ¶¶ 16-18.) In 2001, Plaintiff was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, which can potentially cause hip pain.[5] (Id. ¶¶ 25-26.) In May 2003, Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident. (Id. ¶ 23.) As a result of that accident, Plaintiff again complained of neck pain as well as pain to the right side of her back. (Id.) In April 2004, Plaintiff sought medical attention for neck pain. (Id. ¶ 24.) In 2010, Plaintiff was involved in a trip and fall accident in which she injured her neck, thoracic spine, and lower back. (Id. ¶ 28.)

         Just four months before the July 2013 incident, on March 15, 2013, Plaintiff slipped and fell in a Walmart store. (Id. ¶ 4.) As a result of that accident, Plaintiff claimed to have sustained injuries that resulted in pain to her shoulder, back, and hip. (Id. ¶ 5.) Subsequent to the fall, Plaintiff also complained of a headache. (Id. ¶ 20.) In April 2013, Plaintiff reported left hip pain and stiffness that permeated down her pelvic region and thigh. (See Id. ¶ 27.) On June 4, 2013, Plaintiff underwent her first of at least two MRIs in connection with the injuries she sustained from the fall at Walmart. (See Id. ¶¶ 13, 33.) That MRI showed “[m]ild degenerative spondylosis without significant spinal or neuroforaminal compromise.” (Crowley Decl. Ex. G, at 2, ECF No. 44-8.) A second MRI on August 1, 2013, identified “[n]o definite etiology of left hip pain, ” but it did reveal a “[l]arge fibroid within the uterus.”[6] (See Pl.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 33; Crowley Decl. Ex. S, at 2, ECF No. 44-20.)


         Summary judgment must be granted when there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. At summary judgment, the movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Feingold v. New York, 366 F.3d 138, 148 (2d Cir. 2004). Where the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant's initial burden at summary judgment can be met by pointing to a lack of evidence supporting the non-movant's claim. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325.

         Once the movant meets that burden, the non-movant may defeat summary judgment only by producing evidence of specific facts that raise a genuine issue for trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Davis v. New York, 316 F.3d 93, 100 (2d Cir. 2002). The court is to view all such facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant, drawing all justifiable inferences in her favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. To survive summary judgment, a non-movant must present concrete evidence and rely on more than conclusory or speculative claims. Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp., 613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980). If the admissible evidence is insufficient to permit a rational juror to find in favor of the non-movant, the court may grant summary judgment. Amorgianos v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 303 F.3d 256, 267 (2d Cir. 2002).


         I. ...

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