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ROBERTSON v. AMERICAN AIRLINES
December 16, 2002
KATHLEEN ROBERTSON, PLAINTIFF,
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC. ET AL., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION STRIKING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Before addressing the merits of this negligence action, the court first
must resolve a dispute over the application of the local rules of civil
procedure to the pending motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff Kathleen
Robertson is suing American Airlines ("AA") and its parent, AMR
Corporation ("AMR"), (collectively, "the defendants") for damages
resulting from injuries she allegedly sustained during an AA flight. In
their motion for summary judgment, the defendants present several
defenses. The plaintiff, however, argues that the defendants are not
entitled to summary judgment given their alleged failure to comply with
the requirements of the court's Local Civil Rules 7.1(h) and 56.1. For
the reasons that follow, the court strikes the defendants' motion.
The plaintiff alleges the following facts. On September 10, 1998, the
plaintiff traveled on an AA flight from Denver, Colorado, to Chicago,
Illinois. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Opp'n") at
2-3. She was traveling at the time with a gel pack to relieve back
discomfort. Id. at 3. During the flight, she approached an AA flight
attendant, explained that her gel pack had become warm, and asked him if
he might "make it cold again." Id. The
flight attendant took the gel
pack and disappeared from her sight. Id. He returned with a package,
wrapped in an air-sickness bag, in which he had placed a piece of dry
ice. Id. After the plaintiff placed the package on her back, she
sustained thermal burns. Id.
One year later, on September 7, 2001, the plaintiff filed a complaint
in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia alleging negligence and
recklessness by the defendants and requesting compensatory and punitive
damages. Notice of Removal dated Nov. 20, 2001. The defendants
subsequently removed the action to this court. Id. On August 16, 2002,
after discovery closed, the defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment, arguing that the Warsaw Convention bars the plaintiff's
action, that District of Columbia law bars punitive damages in this
case, and that District of Columbia law shields AMR from liability.
Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.' Mot.") at 2. The defendants'
memorandum in support of their motion begins with a one-paragraph section
entitled "Statement of Material Facts Not in Genuine Dispute" that
outlines the circumstances of the injury as well as the defenses to
liability. Id. at 1-2. The defendants' statement does not include
citations to the record, but a footnote states that "[a] full discussion
of material facts with references will be found in the arguments below."
Id. at 1-2 & 1 n. 1.
The plaintiff filed an opposition to the defendants' motion on
September 20, 2002. As part of her argument against summary judgment for
the defendants, the plaintiff contends that because the defendants'
statement is not separate and contains no citations to the record, it
does not comply with Local Civil Rules 7.1(h) and 56.1. Pl.'s Opp'n at 6
n. 6. Accordingly, citing to caselaw in this circuit, she urges the
court to strike the defendants' statement and deny the defendants summary
judgment. Id. Presumably in case the court refuses to do so, however,
the plaintiff supplies her own "supplemental" statement of material facts
not in dispute in addition to a statement of material facts that are in
dispute. Pl.'s Supplemental Statement of Undisputed Material Facts; Pl.'s
Statement of Disputed Material Facts.
In their reply, the defendants vigorously dispute the plaintiff's
contention that their statement does not satisfy the local rules. Defs.'
Reply at 1-5. The defendants rely on the text of Local Civil
Rules 7.1(h) and 56.1 to argue that the requirements for the movant's statement
of material facts as to which there is no genuine issue differ from the
requirements for the non-movant's statement of material facts as to which
there is a genuine issue. Id. at 2-3. Specifically, they argue that
only the non-movant need provide a "separate, concise statement" of
material facts for which there is a genuine issue. Id. at 2. Because
they, as the movants, provided a statement of material facts directing
the court to the arguments that in turn provides references to the
record, they believe that they have complied with the local rules.*fn1
Id. at 3. Finally, the defendants take issue with the plaintiff's
statement of undisputed material facts and submit their own
"supplemental" statement that contests the allegedly undisputed nature of
those facts. Id. at 4-5; Defs.' Supplemental Statement of Disputed
A. Legal Standard for Local Civil Rule 56.1*fn2
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) directs courts to render
judgments on motions for summary judgment "if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Burke v. Gould, 286 F.3d 513, 517
(D.C. Cir. 2002). To further simplify matters, Local Civil
Rule 56.1 supplements Rule 56 by setting forth specific procedures for the parties
to follow in moving for or opposing summary judgment. LCvR 56.1; Burke,
286 F.3d at 517. First, Rule 56.1 informs parties moving for summary
[a] motion for summary judgment shall be accompanied
by a statement of material facts as to which the
moving party contends there is no genuine issue, which
shall include references to the parts of the record
relied on to support the statement.
LCvR 56.1. The rule then instructs parties opposing such a motion that
[a]n opposition to such a motion shall be accompanied
by a separate concise statement of genuine issues
setting forth all material facts as to which it is
contended there exists a genuine issue necessary to be
litigated, which shall include references ...
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