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Benedetto v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

January 7, 2013

Mark BENEDETTO, Plaintiff,
v.
DELTA AIR LINES, INC., a Delaware Corporation, Defendant.

Page 977

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 978

Melissa Rose Jelen, Stephen C. Landon, Alex M. Hagen, Cadwell, Sanford, Deibert & Garry, LLP, Sioux Falls, SD, for Plaintiff.

James L. Hoy, Hoy Trial Lawyers, Prof. L.L.C., Sioux Falls, SD, Richard G. Grotch, Coddington, Hicks & Danforth, Redwood City, CA, for Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

KAREN E. SCHREIER, District Judge.

Defendant, Delta Air Lines, Inc., moves the court to dismiss Mark Benedetto's complaint in its entirety. Docket 11. Benedetto alleges claims for negligence, breach of contract, breach of a duty of good faith and fair dealing, and punitive damages. Docket 1-1. Delta argues that Benedetto's claims for negligence and breach of a duty of good faith and fair dealing are preempted under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978(ADA), or alternatively, fail to state actionable claims. Delta also argues that Benedetto's claims for breach of contract and punitive damages fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted. Benedetto opposes the motion. For the following reasons, Delta's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Page 979

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The pertinent facts, according to the complaint (Docket 1-1), are as follows:

Mark Benedetto is a resident of South Dakota. Delta Air Lines, Inc. is a Delaware corporation and has its principal office in Atlanta, Georgia. Delta is authorized to and does transact business in South Dakota.

Benedetto and his wife, Gail Benedetto, purchased round trip tickets from Delta to travel from Sioux Falls Regional Airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to LaGuardia Airport in New York City, New York and then back to Sioux Falls. Benedetto's initial flight to New York from Sioux Falls took off on September 28, 2011. As required by Delta and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Benedetto declared to a Delta ticket agent during his check-in process that he was transporting a pistol in his checked luggage. Following the ticket agent's instructions, Benedetto placed a red tag into his luggage and was allowed to check in his pistol with his luggage. Delta offered no warning to Benedetto regarding New York's gun laws. Similarly, Delta did not disclose to Benedetto its policy that required ticket agents at LaGuardia Airport to report anyone with a firearm to the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey. Benedetto then boarded his plane and flew to New York.

On October 2, 2011, Benedetto arrived at LaGuardia Airport to catch his return flight to Sioux Falls. Benedetto again notified a Delta ticket agent that he was traveling with a pistol in his checked luggage. He was again given a red tag to place in his luggage, which he did. The Delta ticket agent then notified the Port Authority Police that there was a passenger who had declared a firearm. Benedetto was arrested by the Port Authority Police for illegal possession of a firearm.[1] After this arrest, Benedetto was turned over to the New York City Police, transported to the Queens Boulevard Precinct, and jailed overnight. Benedetto was charged with a handgun violation and was required to return to New York for legal proceedings after his release.

Benedetto alleges that he was subjected to physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, reasonably feared for his safety, and suffered severe emotional distress while in police custody. He also alleges that he suffered an injury to his shoulder when a police officer handcuffed him.

Benedetto brought this action against Delta on May 24, 2012, in the Second Judicial Circuit of South Dakota. Subsequently, ...


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