By its motion, defendant asks the Court to find that plaintiff's state law negligence claim is preempted by federal law because storing baggage in overhead compartments is a "service," regulation of which is specifically preempted under the FAAAA.
I. Legal Standard
A. Summary Judgment
To withstand a motion for summary judgment, the opposing party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact in dispute. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). If the non-moving party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, "the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).
In opposing summary judgment, plaintiff is not entitled to rely on allegations in her complaint. She "must produce at least some significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint.'" T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 290, 20 L. Ed. 2d 569, 88 S. Ct. 1575 (1968)).
The general test for preemption is whether Congress intended that federal regulation supersede state law. Louisiana Public Serv. Comm'n v. Federal Communications Comm'n, 476 U.S. 355, 106 S. Ct. 1890, 1899, 90 L. Ed. 2d 369 (1986). "The task of statutory construction must in the first instance focus on the plain wording of the clause, which necessarily entails the best evidence of Congress' preemptive intent." CSX Transp., Inc. v. Easterwood 507 U.S. 658, 113 S. Ct. 1732, 1737, 123 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1993). The FAAAA provides that a state "may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under this subpart." 49 U.S.C. § 41713(b)(1) ("Section 41713").
Defendant contends that plaintiff's negligence claim is preempted under Section 41713 because the storage of personal baggage and the activity of the flight crew falls squarely under the definition of a "service of an air carrier." The Court's analysis is thus directed at whether Congress intended to preempt personal injury claims under Section 41713, and whether the storage of personal baggage can be classified as a "service."
As Section 41713 offers no definition for the term "services," it is unclear whether the FAAAA preempts the storage of luggage and related conduct of the crew; it is thus for the courts to engage in statutory construction, and determine what is encompassed under that term. The rationale behind both the ADA and the FAAAA, according to the Civil Aeronautics Board ("CAB"), does not lend support to defendant's position that plaintiff's claims are preempted.
The ADA was established to set policies that would deregulate the economic aspects of interstate transportation. 44 Fed. Reg. 9948-49 (1977). Section 1305, the preemption clause, was specifically designed to prevent states from regulating any economic aspects of air transportation, as explained by the CAB:
preemption extends to all of the economic factors that go into the provision of the quid pro quo for passenger's [sic] fare. . . . [A] state may not interfere with the services that carriers offer in exchange for their rates and fares.