Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Schroeder v. Lufthansa German Airlines

decided: May 23, 1989.

CHRISTINE K. SCHROEDER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LUFTHANSA GERMAN AIRLINES, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 83 C 1928 -- James B. Zagel, Judge.

Bauer, Chief Judge, Kanne, Circuit Judge, and Eschbach, Senior Circuit Judge.

Author: Eschbach

ESCHBACH, Senior Circuit Judge

Christine K. Schroeder, the plaintiff-appellant, brought this diversity suit*fn1 against Lufthansa German A lines and unknown employees of Lufthansa (collectively "Lufthansa"), the defendants-appellees, under the Warsaw Convention for injuries sustained while she was a passenger on Lufthansa. In her first amended complaint, Schroeder sought damages for slander, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and failure to warn. She also claimed that the Warsaw Convention's liability cap of $75,000 did not apply because Lufthansa's actions amounted to willful misconduct. The district court dismissed her failure to warn claim on the ground that it did not state a cause of action and subsequently granted Lufthansa's summary judgment motion as to the rest of her claims. In granting Lufthansa's summary judgment motion, the district court ruled that Lufthansa's actions were justified under the circumstances and that Lufthansa was not responsible for the actions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ("RCMP"). The district court further ruled that even if Lufthansa were liable, the $75,000 liability cap would still apply and that the Warsaw Convention does not allow recovery for slander or for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Schroeder now appeals from the district court's granting of Lufthansa's motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Schroeder raises four issues: (1) whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment on her claims for battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; (2) whether emotional injuries are compensable under the Warsaw Convention; (3) whether the $75,000 liability cap applies to her causes of action; and (4) whether Lufthansa is liable for the actions of the RCMP. For the reasons stated below, we hold that Lufthansa is not liable for the actions of the RCMP and that the district court properly granted Lufthansa's motion for summary judgment. Therefore, without reaching the other two issues on appeal, we affirm the district court.

I. Statement of Facts

On March 19, 1981, Schroeder was a passenger on Lufthansa flight 431, flying from Chicago to Frankfurt, West Germany. She was traveling with sixteen other students from Barrington High School and three adult chaperones. These students were members of the high school's German classes, and they were participating in an educational tour of Germany.

Alter flight 431 had departed, Douglas Dillman, a classmate of Schroeder, telephoned the Air Traffic Control Center in Chicago and reported that Schroeder's luggage contained a bomb. Dillman told the Chicago Air Traffic Control Center that Schroeder did not place the bomb in her luggage and that she did not even know that it was there. The Chicago Air Traffic Control Center quickly notified Lufthansa in Frankfurt, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the RCMP, and the Air Traffic Control Center in Moncton, Canada of the phone call. The Moncton control center then radioed flight 431, which was in Canadian airspace at this time, and informed the pilot that a bomb was in Schroeder's luggage or on her person. The pilot requested and received permission to make an emergency landing at Gander, Canada. In order to keep the passengers calm, Lufthansa told them that the plane was landing in Gander due to technical problems.

The pilot had a flight attendant page Schroeder so that he could speak with her. Alter Schroeder walked to the front of the plane, she was met by the flight attendant who asked her to accompany him to the cockpit. The attendant then took Schroeder by the arm and led her into the cockpit. The pilot informed Schroeder about the phone call and inquired into whether she knew anything about it. Schroeder responded that she knew nothing about it and started to weep. Because he did not want the other passengers to be alarmed, the pilot requested that Schroeder remain in the cockpit. Alter she took an empty seat, the flight engineer fastened the four seat belts for her. Schroeder never stated that she wanted to leave the cockpit, and no one threatened her.

After the plane landed, all the passengers deplaned. Katherine Baer, one of the adult chaperones, was reluctant to leave the plane without Schroeder. A flight attendant, however, told her about the phone call and stated that Schroeder would be brought to the terminal. Eventually, Constable Parsons of the RCMP arrived, and he took custody of Schroeder. After searching her handbag, he transported Schroeder in a military car to the terminal building. At the terminal building, Constables Bourden and Smith questioned Schroeder about the bomb threat. During the course of their questioning, Officer Paulovics, a female officer of the Canadian Customs and Excise Department, conducted a personal search of Schroeder. She took Schroeder into another office and asked her to take her clothes off. Officer Paulovics then examined Schroeder's clothes and her body, without touching her. When Officer Paulovics finished conducting the search, she escorted Schroeder back to Constables Bourden and Smith. Eventually, Baer joined Schroeder. At no time did Schroeder object to being searched or questioned, nor did she state that she wanted to leave. Indeed, Schroeder was always cooperative.

The entire questioning of Schroeder by the RCMP lasted more than five hours. During this period, Schroeder was visibly upset, crying much of the time. After the RCMP finished their investigation of the incident, all the passengers, including Schroeder, reboarded the plane and completed the flight to Frankfurt. As a result of this ordeal, however, Schroeder experienced severe anxiety. She sought psychiatric treatment, and her doctor diagnosed her as suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

On March 13, 1983, Schroeder filed her initial complaint in the district court. In her first amended complaint, Schroeder sued Lufthansa under the Warsaw Convention*fn2 governs the "international transportation of persons, baggage, or goods performed by aircraft." Id., ch. I, art. 1(1). The Warsaw Convention for slander, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and failure to warn. She alleged that the $75,000 liability cap contained in the Warsaw Convention did not apply because Lufthansa's actions amounted to willful misconduct. The district court, applying Illinois law, dismissed her failure to warn claim for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and subsequently granted Lufthansa's summary judgment motion as to the rest of her tort claims. In granting Lufthansa's summary judgment motion, the district court ruled: (1) that under the circumstances, Lufthansa's actions were justified; (2) that even if Lufthansa were liable, the Warsaw Convention's $75,000 liability cap would still apply because Lufthansa's actions did not amount to willful misconduct; (3) that Lufthansa was not responsible for the actions of the RCMP; and (4) that the Warsaw Convention does not allow recovery for slander or for intentional infliction of emotional distress. We affirm.

II. Liability of Lufthansa for the RCMP's Detention and Search of Schroeder

Schroeder contests the district court's ruling that "Lufthansa is not responsible for any actions taken by the [RCMP]." Rec. 174, Tr. at 6. She argues that under both the Warsaw Convention and Illinois law, Lufthansa is liable for the injuries she allegedly sustained due to the RCMP's detention and search of her. Because some of Schroeder's tort allegations contained in her first amended complaint derive in part from the actions of the RCMP, we will first determine whether Lufthansa is liable for their actions before deciding whether the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Lufthansa.

A. Lufthansa's Liability Under the Warsaw Convention

We first turn to Schroeder's claim that under the Warsaw Convention Lufthansa is liable for the actions taken by the RCMP. "The scope of the Warsaw Convention is a matter of federal law and federal treaty interpretation. . . . " Maugnie v. Compagnie Nationale Air Fr., 549 F.2d 1256, 1258 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 431 U.S. 974, 97 S. Ct. 2939, 53 L. Ed. 2d 1072 (1979). In determining its scope, our analysis must start "with the text of the treaty and the context in which the written words are used." Air Fr. v. Saks, 470 U.S. 392, 397, 105 S. Ct. 1338, 1341, 84 L. Ed. 2d 289 (1985).

Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention states that an airline is liable for a passenger's injury if the accident which caused the injury "took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking."*fn3 Warsaw Convention, ch. III, art. 17. Therefore, Lufthansa cannot be held liable under the Warsaw Convention for the actions of the RCMP unless the detention and search of Schroeder occurred on the plane or in the course of embarking or disembarking. Although the RCMP took custody of Schroeder from Lufthansa, it is clear that they did not conduct their detention and search of her on the plane.*fn4 Thus, the issue is whether the RCMP's detention and search of her was done in the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.