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Denehy v. Massachusetts Port Authority

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 5, 2014

JOHN DENEHY, Plaintiff,
v.
MASSACHUSETTS PORT AUTHORITY and SWISSPORT FUELING, INC., Defendants

For John Denehy, Plaintiff: Brian Keane, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christopher C. Storm, The Kaplan/Bond Group, Boston, MA.

For Massachusetts Port Authority, Defendant: David S. Mackey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rebekah Lacey, Anderson & Kreiger LLP, Cambridge, MA.

For Swissport Fueling Inc., Defendant: Leonard H. Freiman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mariana Korsunsky, Goulston & Storrs, PC, Boston, MA.

Page 302

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

WILLIAM G. YOUNG, DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises in connection with a jet fuel spill at Boston Logan International Airport (" Logan Airport" ) that led to the discharge of fuel into the waters of Boston Harbor. John Denehy (" Denehy" ), a Massachusetts commercial clamdigger, brings this action under general maritime law and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, 33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., seeking recovery from the Massachusetts Port Authority (" Massport" ) and Swissport Fueling, Inc. (" Swissport" ) (collectively, " Defendants" ) for damages sustained as a result of the fuel spill's alleged impact on profitable clambeds abutting the airport. Massport and Swissport now move to dismiss Denehy's complaint, on the grounds that the Court lacks

Page 303

jurisdiction over his maritime claims and that his statutory claims are not ripe for review.

A. Procedural Posture

On October 3, 2013, Denehy filed a complaint in this Court against Massport and Swissport seeking damages under general maritime law and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, 33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq.[1] See Compl., ECF No. 1. Massport responded on November 15, 2013, by filing a motion to dismiss Denehy's complaint in its entirety pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Def. Massachusetts Port Authority's Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 13; see Mem. Massachusetts Port Authority Supp. Mot. Dismiss (" Defs.' Mem." ), ECF No. 14. Swissport followed suit on December 4, 2013, adopting Massport's arguments in support of its own motion. Def. Swissport Fueling Inc's Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 20; see Def. Swissport Fueling Inc's Mem. Points & Authorities Supp. Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 21.

Denehy filed a response in opposition to the motions to dismiss on December 16, 2013. Opp'n Defs.' Mot. Dismiss (" Pl.'s Opp'n" ), ECF No. 23. Massport and Swissport jointly replied to Denehy's response on January 2, 2014. Defs.' Reply Mem. Supp. Mots. Dismiss, ECF No. 26. This Court heard oral argument on Massport and Swissport's motions at Boston College Law School on Feburary 11, 2014, and took the matter under advisement. Elec. Clerk's Notes, Feb. 11, 2014, ECF No. 30.

B. Alleged Facts

Denehy is a licensed commercial clamdigger who, along with other clammers, harvests clams from beds located in Boston Harbor. Compl. ¶ ¶ 2, 7. Some of those beds directly abut the grounds of Logan Airport. Id. ¶ ¶ 7-9. Massport is an independent public authority created by the state legislature and responsible for, among other things, owning and operating Logan Airport. Massport Investor Relations, https://www.massport.com/ ...


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