The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENE
HAROLD H. GREENE, United States District Judge.
This action arises from an international airplane hijacking incident in December 1984, in which four Americans, including plaintiff, were held hostage for six days at the airport in Tehran, Iran. Two of the hostages were killed, and the other two, including this plaintiff, were tortured and beaten. Following his return to the United States, plaintiff brought suit here,
against Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) for negligence and willful misconduct. Motions to dismiss were filed by all the defendants. These motions raise issues of jurisdiction in various forms.
The action is controlled by the provisions of the Warsaw Convention which became effective as to the United States on October 29, 1934. 49 Stat. 3000 (1934), reprinted in 49 U.S.C. § 1502 note (1976).
As a treaty of the United States, the Convention is of course the supreme law of the land. U.S. Const. Art. VI, Cl. 2; Air France v. Saks, 470 U.S. 392, 84 L. Ed. 2d 289, 105 S. Ct. 1338 (1985); Trans World Airlines v. Franklin Mint Corp., 466 U.S. 243, 80 L. Ed. 2d 273, 104 S. Ct. 1776 (1984).
Article 1 of the Convention provides that the Convention applies to "all international transportation of persons, baggage or goods, performed by aircraft for hire," a definition which brings the instant flight within the purview of the Convention. Article 28(1) establishes the fora in which actions for damages must be brought, as follows: (a) the domicile of the carrier; (b) the carrier's principal place of business; (c) the territory where the carrier has a place of business through which the contract of carriage has been made; or (d) the place of destination. It is the contention of the defendants that none of these fora is in the United States, and that the action must therefore be dismissed. The Court agrees.
Plaintiff has cited at one time or another all of the provisions of Article 28(1), but his primary reliance is on subsections (c) and (d) of that Article -- the place of business through which the contract of carriage was made, and the place of destination.
With respect to subsection (c), plaintiff advances a rather complicated theory involving his status as a federal employee who was required to purchase his ticket through an American carrier by means of a government travel voucher; the purchase of his ticket from Pan American Airways; and the issuance of the ticket in Sanaa, Yemen on Pan American ticket stock by way of an electronic confirmation of the ticket issuance through Pan American's New York office. This theory does not support jurisdiction under the Warsaw Convention.
The contract of carriage was entered into in Yemen, and that fact is not altered by the procedure through which reservations were made through Pan American. Pan American owed no duty to plaintiff if only because it did not perform any part of the transportation covered by the contract of carriage which was handled entirely by Kuwait Airways Corporation. And whatever else may flow from the sequence of events through which the ticket was issued to plaintiff, it did not transform the United States into the place through which the contract of carriage was made.
As concerns the claim that the United States was the place of destination, it likewise lacks merit. It may certainly be assumed that plaintiff, an American citizen, would have returned eventually to the United States, but that was not his destination when the airplane was hijacked; his destination, as disclosed on the passenger ticket, was Karachi, Pakistan. See Petrire v. Spantax, S.A., 756 F.2d 263 (2d Cir. 1985).
Two prior decisions are almost on all fours with the instant case. In the companion action to the instant lawsuit, filed in the District Court for the Southern District of New York, the decedents purchased tickets with government travel vouchers from a travel agent in Karachi for travel through various points, including Yemen, and for return to Karachi. The original tickets had been issued on Northwest Airlines ticket stock, and they were later exchanged for tickets issued on Pan American stock. The decedents' actual flight took place on an aircraft operated by Kuwait Airways Corporation.
On motions to dismiss on Warsaw Convention grounds, the court held, inter alia, that Kuwait Airways Corporation is domiciled in Kuwait; that the airline's principal place of business is in Kuwait; that the carrier's place of business through which the contract was made was Yemen, where the airline tickets were purchased and issued (not the United States, where Northwest Airlines and Pan American were domiciled); and that the place of destination was the destination stated on the ticket -- Karachi, Pakistan. See Petrire v. Spantax, S.A., supra.
Article 28(1) also provides for suit "before the court at the place of destination," a location that is clearly inapplicable to this case. The flight on which appellee was allegedly injured originated in Canada and was bound for Japan, which would be the only ...