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Fantigrossi v. American Eagle Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 28, 2017



          HON. FRANK P. GERACI, JR. Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff Anthony Fantigrossi (“Fantigrossi”) alleges that he was the victim of reverse-race discrimination when his former employer, Defendant American Eagle Airlines, Inc. (“AEA”), terminated him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ECF No. 1. AEA has moved to dismiss the Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that any potential claim that Fantigrossi had against AEA was extinguished through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings filed by AEA and its parent corporation, AMR Corporation (“AMR”). ECF No. 10. Because Fantigrossi failed to file a proof of claim in that bankruptcy proceeding, his claim was indeed extinguished by the bankruptcy proceedings, and this action must be dismissed.


         Anthony Fantigrossi is a Caucasian male who began working for AEA in March 2010 as a station agent at the Greater Rochester International Airport. In June 2011, Fantigrossi was sitting with two African-American colleagues in the company breakroom and was using his laptop computer. One of these colleagues asked Fantigrossi if he had watched any of Katt Williams' comedy routines. Fantigrossi said that he had not, so the colleague used Fantigrossi's laptop to search the internet for one of Williams' routines, and then played the episode. While Fantigrossi and the two colleagues were watching the episode, AEA's compliance coordinator, Jennifer Winslow, entered the break room. Winslow heard racial slurs on the comedy routine, and complained to Fantigrossi and his colleagues that such language was inappropriate. Fantigrossi then took the laptop from his colleague and stopped the video.

         Approximately five months later, on November 18, 2011, Fantigrossi was called into General Manager Kathy Rice's office at AEA and was instructed to prepare a written report about the breakroom incident. Fantigrossi asked Rice if his colleagues were also being questioned about the breakroom incident, and Rice indicated they were not. Rice then terminated Fantigrossi's employment with AEA.

         Fantigrossi filed a grievance with AEA regarding his termination, where he included written statements from the two colleagues who were with him during the breakroom incident. On December 9, 2011, AEA heard Fantigrossi's grievance, and upheld his termination. Fantigrossi alleges that his two African-American colleagues were not terminated, nor were they disciplined at all as a result of the breakroom incident.

         On November 29, 2011, AEA and its parent company AMR filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. That action was filed in the Southern District of New York, and was assigned to United States Bankruptcy Judge Sean H. Lane. See In re AMR Corp., No. 11-15463-SHL (Bankr. S.D.N.Y.). The bankruptcy action received national publicity, presumably because it involved one of the largest airlines in the United States, American Airlines, Inc. The bankruptcy action was enormously complex and, as of today, it comprises some 12, 832 docket entries. Id. However, in addition to the filing date, only a few key events in the bankruptcy action are relevant to this matter.

         On May 4, 2012, the bankruptcy court entered what is commonly known as a “Bar Date Order.” That Order set July 16, 2012 as the deadline for any person or entity to file a claim against AMR for any claim that arose prior to the filing of AMR's bankruptcy petition on November 29, 2011. See In re AMR Corp., No. 11-15463-SHL, ECF No. 2609 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. May 4, 2012).

         This case was commenced on April 29, 2013, but was automatically stayed under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) due to the pending bankruptcy action.

         On October 22, 2013, the bankruptcy court confirmed AMR's reorganization plan, effective December 9, 2013. In re AMR Corp., No. 11-15463-SHL, ECF No. 10367 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. Oct. 22, 2013).

         On April 2, 2014, the Court granted Fantigrossi's request to proceed with this case, and set a date for AEA to respond to the Complaint. ECF No. 7.

         In his Complaint, Fantigrossi alleges that his termination was a form of reverse-race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he seeks damages from AEA. In response, AEA has moved to dismiss the Complaint. ECF No. 10. That application is fully briefed, and the Court deems oral argument unnecessary.


         To succeed on a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant must show that the complaint fails to state a plausible claim for relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). A complaint is plausible when a plaintiff pleads sufficient facts that allow the Court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged conduct. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Plausibility “is not akin to a probability requirement;” rather, plausibility requires “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (quotation marks omitted). “Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.” Id. (quotation marks and citation omitted). A pleading that consists of “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Id., at 557. In considering the plausibility of a claim, the Court must accept factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the ...

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