from the Order Entered April 1, 2016 In the Court of Common
Pleas of Philadelphia County Civil Division at No: December
Term, 2015 No. 1420
BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., STABILE, and MOULTON, JJ.
Chinweifenu Okeke-Henry, appeals from the April 1, 2016 order
entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County,
granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of Appellee,
Southwest Airlines Co. ("Southwest"). Following
review, we vacate and remand.
filed a complaint on December 16, 2015, alleging she was
injured when she was struck in the head by a suitcase carried
by another passenger while boarding a Southwest flight in
Denver, Colorado on December 16, 2013. In her Complaint,
Appellant alleged that:
8. [Appellant's] injuries resulted from the actions and
inactions of [Southwest], which were careless, negligent, or
reckless in that [Southwest]:
a) failed to properly monitor and oversee the boarding
process on its aircraft;
b) failed to properly train its employees to protect its
passengers' safety during the boarding process;
c) failed to properly supervise its employees during the
boarding process; and
d) failed to otherwise ensure that its passengers would not
be injured in the boarding process.
Appellant's Complaint at ¶ 8.
filed a responsive pleading denying Appellant's injuries
were caused by Southwest and asserting various affirmative
defenses, including preemption under the Federal Aviation Act
("FAA"), 49 U.S.C.A. § 40101 et seq.
Southwest's Answer and New Matter, 1/25/16, at
¶¶ 8-9, 32-33.
February 17, 2016, Southwest filed a motion for judgment on
the pleadings, asserting the pleadings were closed in light
of Appellant's failure to file a reply to Southwest's
new matter and contending Southwest was entitled to judgment
on the pleadings because Appellant's claims were
preempted by the FAA. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings,
2/17/16. Later that day, Appellant filed her reply to
Southwest's new matter, "specifically den[ying] that
[Appellant's] claims are barred or limited in any
way." Appellant's Reply to New Matter, 2/17/16, at
March 7, 2016, Appellant filed a response in opposition to
Southwest's motion for judgment on the pleadings, denying
that her claims were preempted by the FAA, claiming the
FAA's preemption did not prohibit state law remedies but
merely required assertion of a standard of care under the
FAA, and contending that she intended to file a motion to
amend her complaint to reference the ...