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Pumputyte v. United Airlines, Inc.

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

May 23, 2017

NERINGA PUMPUTYTE, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Gary Feinerman, Judge

         Lilija Pumputiena brought this suit on behalf of herself, her minor child Neringa Pumputyte, and four putative classes against Deutsche Lufthansa and United Airlines, alleging breach of contract and violation of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (“Montreal Convention”) in connection with a June 2015 flight from Chicago, Illinois to Brussels, Belgium, and ensuing travel from Brussels to Vilnius, Lithuania. Doc. 7. The court dismissed all claims against Lufthansa and some claims against United. Docs. 37-38 (reported at 2017 WL 66823 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 6, 2017)). Pumputiena filed an amended complaint, Doc. 43, and after United argued that the amendment did not conform to the court's dismissal order, Doc. 45, Pumputyte, no longer a minor and proceeding in her own name, filed a second amended complaint. Doc. 48. United now moves to dismiss parts of the second amended complaint, to strike certain allegations, and to recover its attorney fees. Doc. 50. The motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Background

         In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth of the operative complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set forth in Pumputyte's brief opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). The facts are set forth as favorably to Pumputyte as those materials allow. See Pierce v. Zoetis, 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir. 2016). In setting forth those facts at this stage, the court does not vouch for their accuracy. See Jay E. Hayden Found. v. First Neighbor Bank, N.A., 610 F.3d 382, 384 (7th Cir. 2010).

         The relevant background is set forth in the court's prior dismissal order, familiarity with which is assumed. 2017 WL 66823 at *1. The operative complaint adds allegations that Pumputyte incurred $1, 750 in damages caused by delayed delivery and mishandling of her luggage, which ultimately arrived in a damaged condition. Doc. 48 at ¶¶ 59f, 147, 151. The complaint seeks to certify two classes, which will be called the “8804 Class” and the “General Class, ” respectively:

1. All persons residing in the United States who: (1) had a confirmed reservation and/or boarding passes on UA 8804 operated by United on June 7, 2015 from Chicago to Brussels; (2) incurred actual out-of-pocket compensable economic damages as a direct and proximate result of delayed departure or cancellation of UA 8804 operated by United on June 7, 2015; or (3) incurred actual compensable economic damages as a direct and proximate result of United's efforts or United's failure to mitigate consequences of delayed departure or cancellation of UA 8804 operated by United on June 7, 2015 from Chicago to Brussels; (4) had their flights delayed or cancelled; (5) were not adequately informed by United of the delay or cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and were not offered meaningful rerouting, allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival; (6) were affected by said delay or cancellation for at least three hours; and (7) did not receive advanced notice of cancellation of UA 8804 as scheduled to depart from Chicago, Illinois to Brussels on June 7, 2015 (“8804 Class”).
2. All persons residing in the United States who: (1) submitted to United a Pre-Suit Notice of Claim for economic damages caused by delayed departure of cancellation of international air flights operated by United to and from the USA since June 7, 2015 until present time; (2) submitted this claim to United pursuant to Art. 22(6) of the Montreal Convention; (3) had such claim denied or rejected by United; or (4) had such claim ignored by United (“the General Class”).

Id. at ¶ 70 (slightly edited by the court).

         The operative complaint sets forth three counts. Id. at ¶¶ 93-152. Count I is an individual and 8804 Class claim under Article 19 of the Montreal Convention for damages caused by the delay of UA 8804. Count II is an individual and General Class claim for “breach of duty and failure to meaningfully consider pre-suit notices of claims submitted to defendant per Art. 19 and 22(6) of the Montreal Convention and Failure to Pay for Damages Caused by Delay of Cancellation of International Airfare Pursuant to Article 19 and 22(6) of the Montreal Convention” (slightly edited by the court). Count III is an individual claim for loss and delay of checked baggage under Article 17 (the claim's heading says “Article 19, ” but the substance places it within Article 17) and Article 22(2) of the Montreal Convention.

         Discussion

         United moves to strike the operative complaint's allegations concerning the General Class, to dismiss Counts II and III, to strike allegations concerning “pre-suit notice of claims” and “voluntarily assumed and self-imposed contractual obligations, ” to strike allegations seeking the cost of airfare or lost wages, and to recover its attorney fees. Doc. 50 at 2.

         I. Count II and the General Class

         United moves to dismiss Count II on the ground that the court's prior order dismissed it with prejudice. Doc. 50 at 3-4. Count II alleges that United breached its voluntarily assumed duty to settle disputes prior to a passenger suing. Doc. 48 at ¶¶ 116-142. For the reasons given in the court's prior opinion, that duty does not exist. 2017 WL 66823 at *6. Indeed, Pumputyte concedes that the claim fails as a matter of law. Doc. 57 at 9. Count II accordingly is dismissed, and along with it the General Class allegations.

         United also moves to strike any reference to “voluntarily assumed and self-imposed contractual obligations” and “pre-suit notice of claims.” Doc. 50 at 5. United is correct that many of the operative complaint's allegations pertaining to those terms do not go beyond the legal theory underlying Count II. Accordingly, the court strikes the allegations referencing those terms in support of the dismissed legal theory, Doc. 48 at ...


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