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Lazzerini v. Allegiant Air LLC

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 28, 2015

Dallas Lazzerini and David Lazzerini, Plaintiffs,
v.
Allegiant Air, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER

Michelle H. Bums, United States Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is Allegiant Air, LLC’s (“Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 112). After considering the arguments raised by the parties in their briefing, the Court now issues the following ruling.

On August 15, 2012, this case was removed from the Maricopa County Superior Court. John Desch (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint, alleging that Defendant negligently maintained the emergency slides and exits on its aircraft, Defendant negligently maintained the Constant Speed Drive (hereinafter “CSD”) and the Alternating Current Generator (hereinafter “AC Generator”) on the aircraft’s right engine, and Defendant’s negligence in those respects created a risk that proximately caused Plaintiff’s injury.[1]

After eighteen months of discovery, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Statement of Facts on September 26, 2014. On October 30, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant Allegiant Air, LLC’s Motion for Summary Judgment and a Statement of Facts in Support of Response to Defendant Allegiant Air, LLC’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Thereafter, Defendant filed a Reply to its Motion for Summary Judgment.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant scheduled flight number 645 to fly from Montana to Arizona for July 25, 2010. Plaintiff was aboard this flight. During the flight, the pilots declared an emergency at 20, 000 feet and made an emergency landing in Flagstaff, Arizona. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶1, Ex. 2 at 20.) Once landed, an emergency evacuation occurred and Plaintiff exited the plane via the right front emergency slide. Plaintiff claims he suffered injury as a result.

A. Facts Relevant to the Negligent Maintenance of the Emergency Slides and Exit Claim.

It is uncontested that on the date of the incident, the emergency slides failed to auto-deploy and the flight attendants manually inflated them. Additionally, one of the emergency slides fell backwards into the cabin instead of outwards onto the ground. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶5, Ex. 5 at 19.) Notably, Plaintiff used the right front (“R1”) slide, which did not fall backwards into the cabin. (Def.’s SOF at ¶11.) Mr. Nathaniel Odle, a passenger on the flight, stated in a sworn affidavit that these occurrences caused panic among the passengers. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶10, Ex. 9 at 1.) Ms. Arlene Parker, another passenger, testified in a deposition that although there was a sense of hurriedness, the passengers were neither calm nor panicked. (Pl.’s Resp., Ex. 5 at 19.)

Two days prior to the flight, Defendant performed a slide check on this aircraft, which revealed no issues with the emergency slides. (Def.’s SOF at ¶36.) On the day of the flight, Defendant’s on-flight crew performed a pre-flight check, which indicated that all slides were capable of being deployed. (Def.’s SOF at ¶38.)

Mr. Odle was seated in the emergency exit row and stated in a sworn affidavit that the emergency exit door in his row was blocked from opening, which caused further panic. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶¶8, 9, Ex. 9 at ¶6.) Specifically, Mr. Odle stated that although he was able to release the emergency exit door lock, he could not pull the door open because its path was obstructed by a seat. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶8, Ex. 9 at ¶6.) Defendant asserts in its Reply that the aircraft had obtained an airworthy certificate, establishing that the FAA had certified the aircraft was safe for operation, which the aircraft would not have received had any seat been configured to block an aircraft exit. (Def.’s Reply at 6.)

B. Facts Relevant to the Negligent Maintenance of the Right Engine Claim.

On the date of the incident, Defendant declared an emergency landing because of a potential overheating in either the right engine’s CSD or AC Generator. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶¶1, 42, Ex. 2 at 20-21, Ex. 22 at 7.) Ms. Elizabeth Vindas, one of the pilots on the aircraft, testified that after she noticed a burning smell, the pilots mutually decided to land the aircraft in accordance with company and checklist procedures. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶1, Ex. 2 at 20-21.) In Defendant’s supplemental disclosure statement, Defendant’s expert Kurt Carpenter states, “the engine was shut down as a precautionary measure after the flight crew was notified that a fire and/or heating had occurred in the CSD/Engine Driven Generator.” (Pl.’s Resp., Ex. 22 at 7.)

The Airport Fire Department Incident Report reported that the No. 2 engine’s AC Generator suffered a catastrophic failure due to an engine fire and that the fire was “extinguished (in flight) when the crew dispensed both fire bottles.” (Pl.’s SOF at ¶43, Ex. 20, at ¶4; Ex. 21.) The FAA Incident Report indicated that the primary factor for the incident was a component failure that occurred while the aircraft was cruising. (Pl.’s SOF at ¶40, Ex. 1 at 5.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is warranted if the evidence shows there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party must produce sufficient evidence to persuade the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact. See Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000). Conversely, to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must show that there are genuine issues of material fact. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). A material fact is one that might affect the outcome of the suit under ...


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