United States District Court, D. Oregon
R.M., as parent and next best friend of M.W., a minor child, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff,
CHAD CAMERON CAMP, an individual, Third-Party Defendant.
J. Goodfellow JOHNSTONE & GOODFELLOW 1215 N.W. Adams
McMinnville, OR 97128 Judy Danelle Snyder LAW OFFICES OF JUDY
SNYDER Attorneys for Plaintiff Steven O. Rosen Lisa E. Lear
ROSEN LAW FIRM, P.C. Attorneys for Defendant/Third-Party
Plaintiff Gordon L. Welborn Stephanie C. Kucera HART WAGNER,
LLP 439 SW Umatilla Avenue Redmond, OR 87756 Attorneys for
OPINION & ORDER
A. HERNÁNDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
R.M. as a parent and next best friend of M.W., a minor child,
brings this action for negligence and common carrier
liability against Defendant American Airlines, Inc. Defendant
American Airlines also brings a claim for contribution
against Third-Party Defendant Chad Cameron Camp. Currently
pending before this Court are Plaintiff's Motion to
Strike the Third-Party Claim and Dismiss Third-Party
Defendant Camp and Defendant American Airlines' Motion
for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court
grants Defendant American Airlines' Motion for Summary
Judgment and denies as moot Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.
(“Plaintiff”) is a minor child and was a
passenger on a June 15, 2016 flight from Dallas, TX, to
Portland, OR, operated by Defendant American Airlines
(“Defendant”). As a minor child flying alone,
M.W. qualified as an unaccompanied minor or
“UNMR.” Defendant American Airline's
employees are advised that they are responsible for ensuring
the safe travel of UNMRs until they reach their destination.
Snyder Decl. Ex. 6 (“McMahan Dep.”) 45:1-15;
46:12-23; 47:5-16, ECF 86; id. at Ex. 27, 29, 30.
Its Customer Policy for UNMRs-included in the training for
flight attendants and the inflight manual used by flight
attendants-specifies that flight attendants should pay extra
attention to the UNMR's and “ensure their well
being and safe travel.” Id. at Ex. 30. During
their training, flight attendants are instructed to ensure
that any UNMR is comfortable with where they are seated and
who they are seated next to. Snyder Decl. Ex. 12
(“Smith Dep.”) 16:19-18:4. Flight Attendants may
reseat the UNMR within the cabin if needed. Id. at
American Airlines' employee assigned Plaintiff her seat
on the Dallas to Portland flight when she checked in for the
first part of her trip in San Antonio, TX. Shaffer Decl.
¶ 6, ECF 80. Plaintiff was assigned window-seat 21A.
Id. Third-Party Defendant Chad Camp
(“Defendant Camp”) was assigned middle-seat 21B
on the same flight. Id. at ¶ 7. The aisle seat
next to Defendant Camp-as well as several other seats on that
flight-were vacant. Snyder Decl. Ex. 5 (“Kuykendall
Dep.”) at 77:24-78:4, 116:6-9.
boarding was complete, a flight attendant informed Defendant
Camp that he could move to the vacant aisle seat next to him
if he wanted to have more space. Snyder Decl. Ex. 10
(“Price Dep.”) 63:9-6; Snyder Decl. Ex. 28.
Defendant Camp declined. Id. Plaintiff was not given
an opportunity to change her seat. Price Dep. 64:24-65:1.
Despite the instructions given in the preflight safety video,
a flight attendant also had to instruct Defendant Camp to put
his tray table up and stow his bag under the seat in front of
him. Id. at 59:7-60:23; Snyder Decl. Ex. 28 at 1.
The flight attendants testified that there was nothing
unusual or extraordinary about Defendant Camp. Price Dep.
58:1-16; Snyder Decl. Ex. 4 (“Kirklin Dep.”)
16:14-24. They also testified that he did not appear to be
under the influence of intoxicants. See Kuykendall
Dep. 116:3-5; Price Dep. 58:12-19; Kirklin Dep. 41:11-15,
required by Defendant American Airlines' policies, the
flight attendants took their seats prior to take off.
Kukyendall Dep. 39:23-40:13. Once the airplane reached 10,
000 feet, the captain signaled to the flight attendants that
they could get up from their seats. Id.; Kirklin
Dep. 45:2-46:1; Shaffer Decl. Ex. 6. Flight attendant
Caroline Warmath then began distributing snacks to the
passengers. Kuykendall Dep. 41:14:42-9. When she reached row
21, she observed Defendant Camp's hand on Plaintiff's
lap in her “groin” or “crotch” area.
Id. at 13:24-14:22; Snyder Decl. Exs. 24, 26. Ms.
Warmath immediately demanded Defendant Camp remove his hand,
moved Defendant Camp to the rear of the plane, and notified
lead flight attendant Anna Kirklin. Kuykendall Dep.
43:16-44:21; Price Dep. 73:8-74:23. Two “able-bodied
men” were moved to the back of the aircraft to monitor
Defendant Camp. Lear Decl. Ex. 12 (“Strader
Dep.”) 22:12-14, ECF 79; Kuykendall Dep. 57:12-20;
Price Dep. 75:25-76:8. Ms. Warmath also moved Plaintiff to a
seat between two women in row eight, the second row behind
first class. Snyder Decl. Ex 15 (“M.W. Dep.”)
54:1-14. After both were moved, the captain notified dispatch
of the incident. Strader Dep. 25:11-13. At the time the
message was sent to dispatch, radar shows that the aircraft
was over Texas airspace and had been throughout the entire
incident. Starkey Decl. ¶¶ 3-6, Ex. 1.
American Airlines arranged to have law enforcement meet the
flight at the gate when it arrived in Portland. Lear Decl.
(“Rodriguez Dep.”) 33:6-9; Snyder Decl. Ex. 21.
After M.W. was escorted off the airplane to meet her
stepfather, Rodriguez Dep. 34:15-19, 35:17-19, Defendant Camp
was removed from the airplane by police, Kirklin Dep.
39:19-21; Rodriguez Dep. 36:5-7.
result of his conduct, Defendant Camp was charged with
several crimes and ultimately pled guilty to both Assault
with Intent to Commit Sexual Contact of a Minor and Indecent
Sexual Proposal to a Minor. Lear Decl. Ex. 6 at 1. Despite
pleading guilty, Defendant Camp testified at his deposition
that he had no recollection of committing the assault. Lear
Decl. Ex. 15 (“Camp Dep.”) 63:13-18.
alleges that she has suffered physical, mental, and emotional
injuries because of this incident. Am. Compl. ¶ 49, ECF
4. During the duration of the flight to Portland, she was
afraid to leave her seat to use the restroom. M.W. Dep.
56:15-23. Days later, she was still in shock and
“mentally . . . not okay.” Id. at
58:14-59:10. Her mother similarly testified that in the days
following the flight Plaintiff suffered bouts of crying and
was shocked, sad, and angry. Snyder Decl. Ex. 8 (“R.M.
Dep.”) 158:2-159:9. She was then quiet and withdrawn
for a few weeks. Id. After moving to Montana in
August of 2016, she underwent counseling and was diagnosed
with Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety. Id. at
70:1-72:21; Snyder Decl. Ex. 3 (“Holloway Dep.”)
30:18-24, 32:1-9; Lear Decl. Ex. 4 (Pl. Resp. Def. Interrog.
16). She was called names and blamed for what happened to her
by her classmates. M.W. Dep. 63:15-65:18. For a month in the
fall following the assault, she came home crying from school
every day. R.M. Dep. 174:4-15. For some time, Plaintiff
blamed herself for what happened. M.W. Dep. 92:25- 93:11.
the assault, Plaintiff also began avoiding young men. She is
afraid of men in their twenties and never wants to fly alone
again. Id. at 68:8-23, 69:17-24. She confirms there
are no older male siblings at friend's homes before
sleeping over. Id. at 77:25-78:5. Once a month,
events trigger memories of the assault, such as seeing a man
Defendant Camp's age or hearing people talk about flying
alone. Id. at 92:13-24. She is uncomfortable walking
down the street, worries about what others could do to her,
and feels the need to avoid men. Id. at 61:15-66:21;
Snyder Decl. Ex. 20. Her mother testified that Plaintiff is
visibly anxious and will get jumpy when she is around men in
public places. R.M. Dep. 127:2-128:19. Plaintiff
also alleges that Defendant's negligence caused her
“extreme psychological, emotional and mental trauma and
injury of a permanent nature” and has exposed her to an
increased risk of future harms including decreased
employability, academic performance, and other hazards. Am.
Compl. ¶ 44.
also provides evidence of other sexual assaults that occurred
on various airlines in the years prior to the assault in this
case. A 2013 news article describes an assault on a Delta
flight by a pilot-traveling as a passenger-against an UNMR
seated in a window seat. Lloyd Decl. Ex. 3, ECF 85. Two other
articles describe five incidents of assault in 2013 and 2014,
at least one of which involved an UNMR. Id. at Exs.
4-5. The 2014 NBC article also reports that “[s]everal
other men have been charged with sexual assault against
strangers on airplanes . . . since 2012.” Id.
at Ex. 5 at 3. In 2015, a negligence suit was filed against
American Airlines in Iowa for injuries a UNMR sustained when
sexually assaulted on an American Airlines flight.
Id. at Ex. 7. The news articles also broadly state
that sexual assaults on commercial flights were on the rise
but note no federal agency keeps statistics regarding the
frequency of these crimes on airlines. Id. at Exs.
4-5. In 2014, the “Protecting Airlines Passengers from
Sexual Assaults Act” was introduced into the U.S. House
of Representatives. Id. at Ex. 6. The bill would
have required the FAA to maintain statistics on the number of
sexual assaults that occur on commercial flights and was
introduced in response to the recent increase in reports of
sexual assault on airlines in the United States. Id.
5, 2016, R.M. filed this case on behalf of the minor
Plaintiff bringing claims for negligence against Defendant
American Airlines and battery against Defendant Camp. Compl.,
ECF 1. After the Court informed Plaintiff that it lacked
subject matter jurisdiction because the parties were not
completely diverse, Plaintiff filed her First Amended
Complaint dropping the claims against Defendant Camp and
bringing claims solely against Defendant American Airlines.
Order to Show Cause, ECF 3; First Amended Complaint, ECF 4.
Defendant American Airlines then filed its Amended Answer and
Third-Party Complaint against Defendant Camp. Am. Answer, ECF
11. Defendant American Airlines seeks contribution from
Defendant Camp for any damages awarded against Defendant
American Airlines for Defendant Camp's conduct.
to the end of discovery, Plaintiff moved to strike Defendant
American Airline's third-party claim and dismiss
Defendant Camp. Pl. Mot. Strike, ECF 63. Defendant Camp joins
in that motion. Mot Joinder, ECF 64. After the close of
discovery, the parties stipulated to dismissing
R.M-Plaintiff's mother-as party to this suit, Stip.
Notice Dismissal, ECF 77, and Defendant American Airlines
moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claim
against it, Def. Mot. Summ. J., ECF 78. Oral argument was
held on August 13, 2018.
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court
of the basis of its motion and identifying those portions of
“‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
the moving party meets its initial burden of demonstrating
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden
then shifts to the nonmoving party to present “specific
facts” showing a “genuine issue for trial.”
Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Stefanchik, 559 F.3d 924,
927-28 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
The nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and
designate facts ...