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Naqvi v. Saudi Arabian Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 12, 2015

Syed M. Arif Naqvi, Plaintiff,
v.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, Inc., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Amit P. Mehta United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Air travel can be a hassle. But not every travel inconvenience is a compensable wrong. Believing otherwise, Plaintiff Syed M. Arif Naqvi brought breach of contract and negligence claims against Defendant Saudi Arabian Airlines, Inc. (“SAA”), seeking to recover damages arising from various complications he and his wife encountered before boarding an SAA flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Islamabad, Pakistan. Having concluded that Plaintiff suffered no more than travel nuisances, rather than any compensable harms, the court grants SAA’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

On February 13, 2014, Plaintiff Syed M. Arif Naqvi and his wife departed from Washington Dulles International Airport for a multi-city trip that included a stop-over in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Pl.’s Cross Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 12 [hereinafter Pl.’s Cross Mot.], Stmt. of Undisputed Material Facts [hereinafter Pl.’s Stmt. of Facts], ¶ 7. On February 24, 2014, Plaintiff and his wife were scheduled to depart from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, traveling to Islambad, Pakistan, on board an SAA flight that was scheduled to depart at 5:00 a.m. Pl.’s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 3; see also Pl.’s Cross Mot., Ex. E, at 23. One day prior, Plaintiff checked into his flight online and received a boarding pass via email from SAA, which indicated that his flight would depart from the airport’s South Terminal. Pl.’s Cross Mot., Ex. E, at 23. Plaintiff did not check the status of his flight between the time he received his boarding pass and his arrival the next morning at the South Terminal. Def.’s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 11 [hereinafter Def.’s Mot.], Ex. A-1, ECF No. 11-2 [hereinafter Naqvi Depo. Tr.], at 41:20-22, 58:16-59:11. It was not until he arrived at the South Terminal at 2:00 a.m. that Plaintiff learned from an SAA agent that his flight would depart from the Hajj Terminal, not the South Terminal. Pl.’s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 8. SAA did not give Plaintiff a reason for the terminal change. Id. ¶ 10.

Because the Hajj Terminal was at least 5 miles away, [1] Plaintiff hailed a taxicab to take him there. Id. ¶ 11. However, because of construction around the Hajj Terminal, the taxicab driver was unable to take Plaintiff directly to the main entrance; instead, the driver dropped Plaintiff off “several hundred feet” away, requiring him to walk that distance with his luggage. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiff did not seek assistance loading, unloading or carrying his baggage to the Hajj Terminal. Naqvi Depo. Tr. at 140:3-18.

Notwithstanding the change in terminals, Plaintiff arrived at the lounge near his departure gate approximately fifteen minutes before boarding time. Pl.’s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 13. Plaintiff suffers from diabetes and, upon reaching the lounge, began looking for drinking water with which to take his medication. Id. ¶¶ 14, 16. A “staff” member advised him that no drinking water was available, id. ¶ 14; Naqvi Depo. Tr. 144:22-146:22, which forced him to drink water from the bathroom sink, Pl.’s Stmt. of Facts ¶ 16. Plaintiff found the bathroom to be “unsanitary and nauseating.” Id. ¶ 17.

Plaintiff boarded the flight, apparently without incident. During the flight, Plaintiff began to experience arm, neck, and leg pain. Id. ¶ 18. After arriving in Pakistan, he consulted a doctor who diagnosed Plaintiff with “a case of Brachalgia”-the medical term for arm pain[2]-“left with possibility of Thoracic outlet syndrome”-a compression or irritation of neck and chest nerves[3]- “precipitated because of unaccustomed physical activity that he had to endure during handling of heavy luggage at various airports.” Pl.’s Cross Mot., Ex. I, at 30. The doctor prescribed pain medication, rest, and use of a cervical collar. Id.

B. Procedural History

After returning to the United States, on July 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed suit against SAA in the District of Columbia Superior Court, alleging breach of contract and negligence and seeking $100, 000 in damages. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1, at 7, ¶ 4. On August 1, 2014, SAA removed the case to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(d). Id. at 1.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment may be granted only where “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A material fact is one that is capable of affecting the outcome of litigation. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255 (citation omitted). The court does not “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but . . . determine[s] whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 249.

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must establish that the non-moving party “fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. The moving party must support the assertion that no facts are in dispute by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including . . . affidavits or declarations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). On the other hand, “[t]o defeat a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must offer more than mere unsupported allegations or denials.” Dormu v. District of Columbia, 795 F.Supp.2d 7, 17 (D.D.C. 2011) (citing ...


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