Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Opinion Digests / Montreal Convention Preempts Airline Claim

Montreal Convention Preempts Airline Claim

An Alexandria U.S. District Court has personal jurisdiction over United Airlines in this lawsuit filed by plaintiffs, whose family members died in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, which was deliberately downed on a mountainside by its copilot; the court has personal jurisdiction over United because in registering to do business in Virginia, maintaining an agent for service of process in Virginia and employing Virginia residents, United purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum.

Also, because United itself acknowledged that it has previously brought no fewer than 14 lawsuits in Virginia, the court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction does not offend traditional due process notions of fair play and substantial justice.

However, the court grants summary judgment for United, where plaintiffs have advanced both a negligence claim and a theory of liability under the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention), an international air carriage treaty ratified by the U.S. Even when viewing all the alleged facts in a light most favorable to plaintiffs, United demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute of material fact for trial. No theory of liability supports judgment in favor of plaintiffs under the Montreal Convention, which expressly preempts any similar claims under the common law.

Selke v. Germanwings GmbH (Ellis) No. 1:17cv121, July 20, 2017; USDC at Alexandria, Va.; Peter A. Miller for plaintiffs; Jeffrey S. Poretz for defendant. VLW 017-3-376, 22 pp.

VLW 017-3-376