United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
BRIGHT U. IRABOR, Plaintiff,
LUFTHANSA AIRLINES, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
Dennis Saylor, IV United States District Judge.
a lawsuit arising out of an airline's refusal to board a
passenger. Plaintiff Bright Irabor has filed suit against
defendant Lufthansa Airlines based on a variety of state-law
March 2018, Irabor bought a Lufthansa ticket for a round trip
from Boston to Lagos, Nigeria, through a travel agent, Liliya
Pivovarov. At the time, Irabor's United States permanent
resident card had expired. When she sold him the ticket,
Pivovarov allegedly told Irabor that he could make the trip
using a notice of receipt of a request for extension of a
permanent resident card from U.S. immigration authorities.
April 2018, because of a strike by Lufthansa personnel,
Lufthansa arranged for Irabor to fly to Nigeria on a United
Airlines flight instead. He traveled to Nigeria without
incident. However, on his return trip to Boston, Lufthansa
personnel in Nigeria refused to permit him to board his
flight because they said that his travel documents were not
originally filed a complaint against both Lufthansa and
Pivovarov in Essex County Superior Court on March 13, 2019.
On September 10, 2019, the Superior Court dismissed Pivovarov
from the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.
October 8, 2019, Lufthansa removed the case to this Court on
the grounds of diversity jurisdiction and federal-question
jurisdiction. Irabor has moved to remand the case to the
Superior Court, and also seeks his costs and attorney's
fees incurred in connection with the motion.
following reasons, the motion will be granted as to the
remand to state court, but the request for costs and
attorney's fees will be denied.
facts are stated as set forth in the complaint and the notice
U. Irabor is a resident of North Andover, Massachusetts.
(Compl. ¶ 1). Lufthansa Airlines is an airline that
services Boston Logan International Airport. (See
Compl. ¶ 2; Notice of Removal ¶ 3). Liliya
Pivovarov is a travel agent with offices in Lynn,
Massachusetts. (Compl. ¶ 3).
March 5, 2018, Irabor bought a Lufthansa ticket for a round
trip from Boston to Lagos, Nigeria, through Pivovarov.
(Compl. ¶ 5). At the time he bought the ticket, his U.S.
permanent resident card had expired. He had applied for an
extension, however, and had received a notice from U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledging receipt of
his application. (See Id. ¶ 6).
asked Pivovarov if Lufthansa would allow him to travel
between the United States and Nigeria using those documents.
(Id. ¶ 5). According to the complaint,
Pivovarov said yes. (Id.). Irabor then bought
round-trip tickets for a flight leaving on April 9, 2018, and
returning on April 22, 2018. (See Id. ¶¶
April 9, 2018, Lufthansa airline personnel were on strike.
Lufthansa arranged for Irabor to fly to Nigeria aboard a
United Airlines flight. (Id. ¶ 7). He traveled
to Nigeria without incident. (Id.).
April 22, 2018, Irabor tried to board his return flight at
Muritala International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria.
(Id. ¶ 8). According to the complaint,
Lufthansa personnel refused to permit him to board the flight
because they said that his travel documents were not
acceptable. (Id.). Unable to board his flight as
planned, he booked a hotel for the night and bought a return
ticket to the United States from Air France. (Id.
¶¶ 9-10). Because he did not have enough money to
pay for the ticket, he was forced to borrow money from a
private lender in Lagos. (Id.).
filed this action in Essex County Superior Court on March 13,
2019. The complaint alleges that defendants Lufthansa
Airlines and Liliya Pivovarov are liable under Massachusetts
law for conversion (Count 1); breach of contract (Count 2);
breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
(Count 3); unfair methods of competition and/or unfair or
deceptive acts or practices in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws
ch. 93A, § 2 (Count 4); negligent misrepresentation
(Count 5); and intentional or reckless infliction of
emotional distress (Count 6).
13, 2019, Liliya Pivovarov moved to dismiss the complaint
against her for insufficiency of service of process and lack
of personal jurisdiction. On September 10, 2019, the Superior
Court granted the motion based on lack of personal
jurisdiction and dismissed the complaint against her without
prejudice. However, the court gave Irabor 30 days to refile
the complaint against Pivovarov and to effect service.
October 8, 2019, Lufthansa removed to this Court on the
grounds of both diversity and federal-question jurisdiction.
By that time, Irabor had not refiled the complaint against
Pivovarov and had not served her.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in
a State court of which the district courts of the United
States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the
defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the
United States for the district and division embracing the
place where such action is pending.”
removed from state court must be remanded “[i]f at any
time before final judgment it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c). The removing defendant bears the burden of
demonstrating the subject-matter jurisdiction of the federal
court. Danca v. Private Health Care Sys., Inc., 185
F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 1999). “The removal statute is
strictly construed, and any doubts about the propriety of
removal are resolved in favor of remand ...