United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
FISH Senior United States District Judge
the court is the motion of the defendant, Southwest Airlines
Co. (“Southwest”), to dismiss the claims of the
plaintiff, B.S., pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) (docket
entry 20). For the reasons stated below, the defendant's
motion is granted in part and denied in part.
by and through his next friend and mother, Kellie Stokes,
commenced this action against Southwest, alleging various
claims arising out of events that occurred during a Stokes
family trip on Southwest. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
(“Amended Complaint”) (docket entry 17). B.S. is
a Texas resident. Id. ¶ 4. Southwest operates
as a common carrier airline, and its corporate office is in
Dallas, Texas. Id. ¶ 5.
a minor afflicted with autism. Id. ¶ 4. B.S.
contends that Southwest did not permit B.S. to board a flight
because of his disability, and that Southwest's conduct
violates the Air Carrier Access Act (“ACAA”), 49
U.S.C. § 41705. Id. ¶ 20. B.S. also brings
state law negligence and intentional infliction of emotional
distress (“IIED”) claims arising from
Southwest's alleged treatment of him during his travels
and its alleged failure to provide reasonable accommodations
to B.S.'s disability. Id. ¶ 32.
August 13, 2014, B.S., then 11 years old, was traveling from
Oakland, California, to Dallas, Texas, when he and his family
missed their flight due to delays at a security checkpoint.
Id. ¶¶ 8, 9. Southwest gate agents booked
the family on another flight to Denver, Colorado, where they
would have to spend the night and continue to Dallas in the
morning. Id. ¶ 10. When the family was walking
through the jet bridge to board the flight to Denver, B.S.
became extremely anxious and repeatedly asked his mother
where they were going. Id. In response, B.S.'s
mother explained multiple times that they were flying to
Denver first and would be home in the morning. Id. A
Southwest pilot who had been walking behind them on the jet
bridge then leaned down and yelled in B.S.'s face,
“YES, we are going to DENVER!!” Id.
(emphasis in original). B.S.'s mother then declared to
her family, “[t]urn around, we are not getting on this
flight because it's not safe.” Id. In
response, the Southwest pilot allegedly smirked and laughed.
Id. A Southwest agent then booked the family on
another flight, this time to San Diego, California.
and his family checked into a hotel after arriving in San
Diego. Id. ¶ 11. After four hours of sleep, the
family returned to the San Diego airport for their flight to
Dallas. Id. Before boarding, B.S. became upset and
ran away into the busy terminal, and B.S.'s mother asked
the gate agent for assistance from security to locate B.S.
Id. Before security arrived, B.S. had returned to
his mother and had calmed down. Id. The gate agent
then informed B.S.'s mother that the family would not be
permitted to board the flight to Dallas. Id. The
gate agent's supervisor, after a discussion with the
flight's captain, confirmed that B.S. and his family
would not be permitted to board the flight. Id. The
family later flew from San Diego to Albuquerque, New Mexico,
and from Albuquerque to Dallas without further incident.
filed his original complaint on August 12, 2016. See
Original Complaint (docket entry 1). B.S. filed an amended
complaint on December 22, 2016. See Amended
Complaint. In response, Southwest filed the instant motion
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). See Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (docket entry 20). B.S.
then filed a timely response, which was followed by
Southwest's timely reply. See Plaintiff's
Response (docket entry 23); Defendant's Reply (docket
entry 24). The motion is now ripe for decision.
Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must
plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” In re Katrina Canal
Breaches Litigation, 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007)
(quoting Bell Atlantic Corporation v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1182
(2008). “While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations,
a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his
entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks, brackets, and citation
omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level, on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true
(even if doubtful in fact).” In re Katrina
Canal, 495 F.3d at 205 (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555) (internal quotation marks omitted). “The
court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Id. (quoting Martin K. Eby Construction
Company, Inc. v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 369 F.3d
464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Supreme Court has prescribed a “two-pronged
approach” to determine whether a complaint fails to
state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). See Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009). The court must
“begin by identifying the pleadings that, because they
are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the
assumption of truth.” Id. at 679. The court
should then assume the veracity of any well-pleaded
allegations and “determine whether they plausibly give
rise to an entitlement of relief.” Id. The
plausibility principle does not convert the Rule 8(a)(2)
notice pleading standard to a “probability requirement,
” but “a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully” will not defeat a motion to dismiss.
Id. at 678. The plaintiff must “plead
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. “[W]here the well-pleaded
facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged -- but
it has not ‘show[n]' -- ‘that the pleader is
entitled to relief.'” Id. at 679
(alteration in original) (quoting ...