United States District Court, S.D. California
DOMINIC FONTALVO, a minor, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, TASHINA AMADOR, individually and as successor in interest in Alexis Fontalvo, deceased, and TANIKA LONG, a minor, by and through her Guardian ad Litem, TASHINA AMADOR, Plaintiffs,
SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORPORATION; SIKORSKY SUPPORT SERVICES, INC.; UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION; G.E. AVIATION SYSTEMS, LLC; DUPONT AEROSPACE CO.; E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY; PKL SERVICES INC., and DOES 1 through 100, Inclusive, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT PKL SERVICES INC.'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 135.]
GONZALO P. CURIEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant PKL Services, Inc.'s
(“Defendant's” or “PKL's”)
motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs Dominic Fontalvo, a
minor, by and through his Guardian Ad Litem, Tashina Amador,
individually and as successor in interest in Alexis Fontalvo,
deceased, and Tanika Long, a minor, by and through her
Guardian Ad Litem, Tashina Amador's (collectively,
“Plaintiffs'”) Second Amended Complaint
(“SAC”). (Dkt. No. 135.) Plaintiffs do not oppose
PKL's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 138.) The
Court deems PKL's motion suitable for disposition without
oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Having
reviewed the motion and the applicable law, and for the
reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS PKL's motion
for summary judgment on Plaintiffs' SAC.
action arises from the March 17, 2011 death of United States
Marine Corps (“USMC”) Staff Sergeant Alexis
Fontalvo (“Decedent”) in a helicopter accident.
(Dkt. No. 71, SAC ¶ 17.) Plaintiff Dominic Fontalvo, a
minor, and Tanika Long, a minor, bring this action by and
through their mother and Guardian ad Litem, Tashina Amador.
(Id. ¶¶ 3-5.)
allege the helicopter accident at issue occurred “when
the wire path leading to the landing gear was subject to an
unplanned and uncommanded energization, which caused the left
main landing gear to retract while decedent . . . was beneath
the subject CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.”
(Id. ¶ 16.) According to Plaintiffs, the
helicopter crushed Decedent's arm, immobilizing him as
the weight of the helicopter, which exceeded sixteen tons,
“came down on his body.” (Id.) Decedent
sustained “blunt force polytrauma and injuries
including but not limited to skull fractures, spinal
fractures and separation of [Decedent's] brain stem from
his spinal cord, such massive injuries being fatal in
With respect to PKL, Plaintiffs allege PKL
failed properly to inspect and maintain the landing gear
systems and wiring, wiring harness, the landing gear assembly
and the attendant hardware and appurtenances and component
parts and other items and equipment attendant thereto,
despite having assumed the duty and responsibility to inspect
and maintain the fleet of aircraft that included the subject
CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter.
(Id. ¶ 51.) These alleged omissions
“permitted the wiring leading from the landing gear
control panel to the landing gear assembly in the subject
CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter to reach a woeful state of
disrepair, ” which “rendered the wiring
susceptible to unplanned energization.” (Id.)
proffered evidence showing that PKL had a limited role with
respect to maintaining the helicopter, contrary to
Plaintiffs' allegations. PKL was obligated only to
complete the Phase A, B, C, and/or D maintenance as
prescribed by the RESET Report provided by the USMC. (Dkt.
No. 135-1, Defendant PKL Services, Inc.'s Separate
Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Support of Motion
for Summary Judgment (“Def.'s SSUF”) ¶
The RESET Report is comprised of maintenance inspection cards
which provide PKL with specific instructions on what tasks
should be performed under each phase of maintenance.
(Id.) PKL was not asked to perform any maintenance
activities on the section of defective Kapton wire which
allegedly caused Decedent's death. (Id.
¶¶ 12-13.) Nor did PKL perform any maintenance
activities on that section of Kapton wire. (Id.) The
Kapton wire which allegedly reached a state of disrepair was
located at the top of the fuselage of the helicopter.
(Id. ¶ 14.) No aspect of the landing gear
system including the subject Kapton wire was a part of the
Phase A, B, C, and/or D maintenance. (Id.
time of Decedent's death, there was a fleet-wide plan to
replace Kapton wiring in aircraft similar to the subject
helicopter. (Id. ¶ 19.) The program, separate
and apart from PKL's maintenance under the RESET Report,
is a three-phased program that has never been fully funded.
(Id. ¶ 20.) The “harness of wires”
involved in Decedent's death was a part of the third
phase of the Kapton wiring replacement program which was
uncompleted on the date of the incident. (Id.
January 25, 2013, Plaintiffs filed this action in California
Superior Court. (Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A.) On February 11, 2013,
Defendants Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Support
Services, Inc., and United Technologies Corporation removed
this action to federal court. (Dkt. No. 1.) After this Court
denied Plaintiffs' motion to remand, (Dkt. No. 31), and
granted Defendant GE Aviation's motion to dismiss
Plaintiffs' Complaint, (Dkt. No. 38), Plaintiffs filed an
Amended Complaint on August 22, 2013. (Dkt. No. 39.) The
Amended Complaint alleged six separate causes of action: (1)
strict products liability under a design defect theory; (2)
strict products liability under a manufacturing defect
theory; (3) negligent products liability under a negligent
design theory; (4) negligent products liability under a
negligent manufacturing theory; (5) negligence; and (6) a
survivor action pursuant to California Code of Civil
Procedure § 377.11 et seq. (See Dkt. No. 39.)
September 5, 2013, Defendant E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and
Company (“E.I Du Pont”) filed a motion to dismiss
Plaintiffs' sixth cause of action pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 41.) Defendants
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Sikorsky Support Services,
Inc., United Technologies Corporation, and G.E. Aviation
Systems, LLC filed two separate notices of joinder to
Defendant E.I. Du Pont's motion to dismiss. (Dkt. Nos.
September 5, 2013, Defendant PKL Services, Inc. filed a
separate motion to dismiss the first through fourth and sixth
causes of action against PKL as alleged in Plaintiffs'
Amended Complaint. (Dkt. No. 42.) PKL joined and incorporated
by reference Defendant E.I. Du Pont's ...