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Covino v. Spirit Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 25, 2019

Robyn Covino Plaintiff,
v.
Spirit Airlines, Inc. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         Robyn Covino (“plaintiff” or “Covino”), proceeding pro se, brings claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress against Spirit Airlines, Inc. (“defendant” or “Spirit”).

         Pending before this Court is the motion of Spirit to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint on all counts.

         I. Background

         Robyn Covino avers that she was a passenger on a Spirit flight from Las Vegas to Boston in April, 2017. During the flight, Covino attempted to use the lavatory. She claims that a Spirit flight attendant stopped her from doing so by yelling, cursing and blocking her passage. Covino does not allege why she believes she was denied access but Spirit asserts that the lavatory was temporarily unavailable because it was occupied by another passenger or crew member.

         Following the altercation, the flight attendant reported plaintiff and the incident to Boston International Logan Airport (“Logan”). Upon arrival at Logan, Covino was escorted off the plane and questioned by Massachusetts State Police Officer Gendreau (“Officer Gendreau”) before other passengers could disembark. Plaintiff alleges that Officer Gendreau questioned her about the incident and then provided her with his contact information.

         Covino purchased her ticket to Boston through Spirit’s “ticketless” online booking system. In doing so, she checked a box acknowledging her agreement with the terms and conditions set forth in Spirit’s Contract of Carriage (“COC”). The full text of the COC was made available to Covino via a hyperlink on Spirit’s booking system. The COC is also published and publicly available on Spirit’s website.

         Covino filed the instant suit against Spirit in Massachusetts Superior Court in December, 2018. In January, 2019, Spirit removed the case to this Court. Covino seeks damages for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress arising out of the flight attendant’s conduct in denying her access to the lavatory.

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         Spirit moves to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint as preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and as time-barred by Spirit’s COC.

         A. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). In considering the merits of a motion to dismiss, the Court may only look to the facts alleged in the pleadings, documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint and matters of which judicial notice can be taken. Nollet v. Justices of Trial Court of Mass., 83 F.Supp.2d 204, 208 (D. Mass. 2000), aff’d, 228 F.3d 1127 (1st Cir. 2000).

         Furthermore, the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor. Langadinos v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 199 F.3d 68, 69 (1st Cir. 2000). If the facts in the complaint are sufficient to state a cause of action, a motion to dismiss the complaint must be denied. See Nollet, 83 F.Supp.2d at 208.

         Although a court must accept as true all the factual allegations in a complaint, that doctrine is not applicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662 (2009). Threadbare recitals of legal elements which are supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice to state a cause of action. Id. Accordingly, a complaint does not state a claim of relief where the ...


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