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Baylay v. Etihad Airways P.J.S.C.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 29, 2016

ETIHAD AIRWAYS P.J.S.C, et al, Defendants.


          Joan B. Gottschall United States District Judge.

         Defendant Etihad Airways P.J.S.C. ("defendant") moves pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss Counts I, II, and III of plaintiff Martyn Baylay's Second Amended Complaint on the basis that these three counts are barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act ("IWCA") [33]. In response, the plaintiff alleges that the IWCA has no preclusive effect upon his claims against the defendant because the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA") provides exclusive jurisdiction over "foreign states" such as defendant and thereby divests Illinois state courts, and the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission ("IWCC"), of jurisdiction over this matter. For the reasons set forth below, the court grants the defendant's motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from the plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint [32] and are taken as true for purposes of this motion to dismiss. The plaintiff is a citizen of the United Kingdom who was employed as a pilot by defendant Etihad Airways P.J.S.C. The defendant is a Public Joint Stock Company that operates a fleet of aircraft serving international routes, including North American, Europe, and the Middle East. On the night giving rise to the events of this lawsuit, October 13, 2013, the plaintiff and three other pilots, including defendant Saravdeep Mann (“Mann”), were on a layover in Chicago, Illinois following a flight from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. That evening, the plaintiff, Mann, and the two other pilots went out for dinner and drinks. Mann consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, became verbally abusive, and even threatened the plaintiff physically by placing his hands around the plaintiff's throat. Mann ultimately left the restaurant before the other pilots at about 8:30 to 9:00 p.m., although he left his coat behind and failed to pay for his portion of the bill. The plaintiff left the restaurant sometime later and brought Mann's coat with him back to their hotel.

         At approximately midnight of that same night, the plaintiff heard a knock on his hotel door, looked through the peep hole, and saw Mann standing outside the door in the hallway. Thinking that Mann wanted to apologize for his earlier behavior and collect his jacket, the plaintiff opened the door, only to be struck on the head and leg by Mann, who was wielding a hotel decoration described as a “bronze-bladed ornament.” During the attack, Mann (who is from India) verbally threatened the plaintiff by saying “I'm going to kill you. You f*cking British bastard.” The plaintiff sustained a head wound and was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, while Mann was arrested and transported to the Chicago Police Department, where he was charged with battery.

         Mann posted bond on the morning of October 14, 2013, and left the police station. Sometime thereafter, Mann left the United States. On the plaintiff's information and belief, the defendant picked up Mann from the police station and reconfigured both pilot and flight schedules to successfully remove Mann from the United States. Mann subsequently failed to appear at his first court date in November 2013 and thus forfeited his bond. On the plaintiff's information and belief, the defendant was aware that Mann had a history of violence and alcohol problems.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) allows a defendant to move for dismissal of a complaint if it “fail[s] to state a claim for which relief can be granted.” The court must accept all facts pleaded in the complaint as true, and must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. INEOS Polymers, Inc. v. BASF Catalysts, 553 F.3d 491, 497 (7th Cir. 2009). In general, “the complaint need only contain a ‘short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, '” E.E.O.C v. Concentra Health Services, Inc., 496 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Rule 8(a)), with sufficient facts to put the defendant on notice “of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)) (internal quotation mark omitted) (alterations in original). To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint need not present particularized facts, but “demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic, 550 U.S. at 555).

         A. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Act

         The defendant argues in its motion to dismiss that the IWCA precludes the plaintiff from proceeding against it in this court. Specifically, the defendant maintains that Count I (negligent retention), Count II (negligence), and Count III (willful and wanton conduct) of the Second Amended Complaint are barred by the ICWA's exclusivity provisions. In his responsive pleading, the plaintiff does not directly address the defendant's IWCA exclusivity arguments but instead argues that the IWCA is inapplicable to this case due to the jurisdictional requirements of the FSIA, 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et seq.[1]

         The IWCA provides an administrative remedy for employee injuries “arising out of and in the course of the[ir] employment.” 820 ILCS 305/11. The IWCA abrogates employer liability for all common law negligence claims, Walker v. Doctors Hosp., 110 F.Supp.2d 704, 714 (N.D. Ill. 2000), and it does so through its two exclusivity provisions. The first, Section 5(a), provides, in pertinent part:

No common law or statutory right to recover damages from the employer ... for injury or death sustained by any employee while engaged in the line of his duty as such employee, other than the compensation herein provided, is available to any employee who is covered by the provisions of this Act....

820 ILCS 305/5(a). The second, Section 11, states, among other things, that the compensation provided by the IWCA “shall be the measure of the responsibility” of an employer. Id. at 303/11. Illinois courts have held that the goal of the exclusivity clauses is to prevent employees from receiving double compensation for injuries suffered in the workplace; accordingly, an employee may not recover under both the IWCA and a common law claim for injuries covered by the IWCA. James v. Caterpillar Inc., 611 N.E.2d 95, 104 (Ill.App.Ct. 1993); Witham v. Mowery, 514 N.E.2d 531, 532 (Ill.App.Ct. 1987).

         If, as here, an employer is sued in common law, the employer may raise the IWCA's exclusivity bar as an affirmative defense. See Arnold v. Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc., 215 F.Supp.2d 951, 956 (N.D. Ill. 2002); Doyle v. Rhodes,461 N.E.2d 382, 386 (1984). Once the employer raises the defense and establishes two elements-the existence of an employment relationship and the nexus between the employment and the injury-the burden shifts to the employee-plaintiff to prove one of the four exceptions to exclusivity: (1) that the injury was not accidental; (2) that the injury did not arise from his or her employment; (3) that the injury was not received during the course of employment; or (4) that the injury is not compensable under the Act. Whitehead v. AM Int'l, Inc.,860 F.Supp. 1280, 1289 (N. D. Ill. 1994); Meerbrey v. Marshall Field and Co., Inc., 564 N.E.2d 1222, 1226 (Ill. 1990); see also Acuff v. IBP, Inc.,77 F.Supp.2d 914, 922 (C.D. Ill. 1999) (IWCA bar “must be pleaded and proven by the employer”). It is important to note that because complaints in federal court need not plead or even anticipate affirmative ...

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