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Vass v. Facility Services & Systems

November 19, 2009

JACQUELINE VASS, AND GEORGE VASS, PLAINTIFFS
v.
FACILITY SERVICES & SYSTEMS, INC., DEFENDANT AND MESA AIR GROUP, INC., MESA AIRLINES, A SUBSIDIARY OF MESA AIR GROUP INC., U.S. AIRWAYS EXPRESS, U.S. AIRWAYS, INC., U.S. AIRWAYS GROUP, INC. JOINDER DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge James M. Munley United States District Court

(Judge Munley)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. Having been fully briefed, the matter is ripe for consideration.

Background

This case arises out of Plaintiff Jacqueline Vass's experiences boarding an aircraft at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania International Airport. Vass was a passenger on U.S. Airways Flight 2294 from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 16, 2005. (Defendants' Statement of Material Facts (Doc. 50-1) (hereinafter "Defendants' Statement) at ¶ 1). Plaintiff claims she was sprayed with deicing fluid as she boarded her flight. (Id. at ¶ 9). Plaintiff insists that this fluid hit her as she was on the jetway and before she boarded the airplane. (Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Statement (Doc. 55) at ¶ 9). After this incident, the airplane experience a slight delay and then departed for its scheduled destination. (Defendants' Statement at ¶ 10).

Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging negligence against Defendant Facility Services & Systems, Inc. in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania on September 5, 2006. (See Doc. 1-3). Defendants removed the case to this court on September 28, 2006. (See Doc. 1). They then answered the complaint (Doc. 2), and the parties engaged in discovery. On January 12, 2007, plaintiffs filed a joinder complaint that named Defendants Mesa Airlines, Mesa Air Group, US Airways Express, US Airways, Inc., and US Airways Group. (Doc. 12). After a period when the case was stayed as one of the defendants passed through bankruptcy, the parties again engaged in discovery. On August 20, 2009, defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. The parties then briefed the issue, bringing the case to its present posture.

Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The plaintiffs are Pennsylvania Citizens, and the defendants are a corporations established and with principal places of business in other states. The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. Because we are sitting in diversity, the substantive law of Pennsylvania shall apply to the instant case. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)).

Legal Standard

Granting summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). A fact is material when it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

Discussion

Defendants seek summary judgment on several grounds. The court will ...


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