United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR
IMPROPER VENUE BUT GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER CASE UNDER 28
U.S.C. § 1404 RE: ECF NO. 12
BEELER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ismael Agasino, who does not live in California and does not
allege any connection to California, brings this lawsuit
against defendant American Airlines, Inc., which is not a
citizen of California, for injuries he suffered on a flight
that had no connection to California. American Airlines moved
to dismiss for improper venue under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(3) or, in the alternative, to transfer the
case under 28 U.S.C. § 1404.
court can decide this motion without oral argument. N.D. Cal.
Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). The court denies American Airlines's
motion to dismiss but finds that transfer is appropriate
under 28 U.S.C. § 1404 and transfers this case to the
Northern District of Texas.
Ismael Agasino is a citizen and resident of the United
States. Mr. Agasino does not allege that he is a
citizen or resident of California. Mr. Agasino does not allege
that he has any connection to California.
American Airlines is a citizen of Texas, where it maintains
its principal business offices. More specifically, American
Airlines maintains its principal offices in Fort Worth,
Texas. Fort Worth is in the Northern District of
Agasino booked a flight on American Airlines Flight 60,
flying on June 1, 2018. Flight 60 flew from Tokyo, Japan to
Dallas, Texas. Dallas is in the Northern District of
Texas. On that flight, a bag fell from an overhead storage
compartment and hit Mr. Agasino in the head. Mr. Agasino lost
consciousness and suffered injuries, including a concussion,
cervical strain, and cognitive impairment. Mr. Agasino makes
a claim under the Convention for the Unification of Certain
Rules for International Carriage by Air, Treaty No. 106-45
(the “Montreal Convention”), against American
Airlines for not less than $400, 000.
Agasino does not allege that he booked his flight from
California. Mr. Agasino does not allege that the
flight departed from, arrived in, had a layover in, or
otherwise had any connection to California. Mr. Agasino
alleges that American Airlines generally operates numerous
flights into and out of San Francisco International Airport
(“SFO”), leases space at SFO, has hundreds of
employees at SFO, and regularly solicits business from
citizens in the Northern District of California - but he does
not allege that he, his flight, or any allegations relating
to his claim have any connection to California.
Agasino contends that venue for this case is governed by the
Montreal Convention. He argues that the Convention contains
its own venue rules and that those rules supersede the
general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1391. Not so. The
Convention does not govern venue within the United States.
1. An action for damages must be brought, at the option of
the plaintiff, in the territory of one of the States Parties,
either before the court of the domicile of the carrier or of
its principal place of business, or where it has a place of
business through which the contract has been made or before
the court at the place of destination.
2. In respect of damage resulting from the death or injury of
a passenger, an action may be brought before one of the
courts mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article, or in the
territory of a State Party in which at the time of the
accident the passenger has his or her principal and permanent
residence and to or from which the carrier operates services
for the carriage of passengers by air, either on its own
aircraft, or on another carrier's aircraft pursuant to a
commercial agreement, and in which that carrier its business
of carriage of passengers by air from premises leased or
owned by the carrier itself or another carrier with which it
has a commercial agreement.
Convention ch. 3, art. 33. Courts have held that the Montreal
Convention (and its predecessor, the Warsaw Convention) does
not govern venue within a signatory “State
Party.” Avalon Techs., Inc. v. EMO-Trans,
Inc., No. 14-14731, 2015 WL 1952287, at *5 (E.D. Mich.
Apr. 29, 2015) (“Numerous courts have considered the
proper interpretation of Article 33 of the Montreal
Convention and its predecessor under the Warsaw Convention.
The consensus appears to be that Article 33 confers
jurisdiction on the courts of a nation-state, rather than a
particular court within that nation-state.”) (citing
cases). As the Ninth Circuit explained in connection with the
Montreal Convention's predecessor, the Warsaw Convention,
the Convention “does not . . . affect whether venue is
proper and convenient in a particular federal court” or
“alter a federal court's power to transfer a case
within the United States pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1404(a).” Hosaka v. United Airlines,
Inc., 305 F.3d 989, 1004 (9th Cir. 2002) (emphasis in
original) (citing In re Air Crash Disaster Near New
Orleans, 821 F.2d 1147, 1161 n.21 (5th Cir. 1987) (en
banc), vacated on other grounds sub nom. Pan Am. World
Airways, Inc. v. Pampin Lopez, 490 U.S. 1032 (1989)). A
“‘[p]laintiff's choice of forum within [a]
country is governed by the internal law [of that country],
with all its intricacies and complexities, not by the 
Convention. Once a plaintiff files suit in a country with
jurisdiction over his or her claims, that country's
procedural rules govern venue.'” Avalon,
2015 WL 1952287, at *5 (quoting Mertens v. Flying Tiger
Line, Inc., 341 F.2d 851, 855 (2d Cir. 1965),
abrogated on other grounds by Chan v. Korean Air Lines,
Ltd., 490 U.S. 122 (1989)).
Montreal Convention does not vest venue in this
28 U.S.C. § 1391
is nonetheless proper in this district under the United
States's standard procedural rules.
the United States, venue for civil actions filed in federal
court is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1391, ...