United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HOLLER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is plaintiff Spectre Air Capital,
LLC’s (“Spectre”) motion to remand. Dkt. 6.
Having considered the motion, response, reply, and applicable
law, the court is of the opinion that the motion to remand
(Dkt. 6) should be DENIED.
case stems from the international shipment of two aircraft
engines. Dkt. 1-1 at 6-7. Spectre entered into a lease with
Delta Airlines (“Delta”) for the engines and
engaged defendant Crane Worldwide Logistics LLC
(“Crane”) to transport the engines from Tianjin,
China to Delta TechOps at Gate 6 of the Hartsfield-Jackson
Atlanta Airport (“Atlanta Airport”). Id.
Upon arrival at the Atlanta Airport, the engines were
transferred from the aircraft to a handling agent warehouse,
where Crane’s subcontractor loaded the engines onto a
truck for delivery to Gate 6. Id. at 6-7,
105-06. To reach the gate area from the warehouse,
the subcontractor briefly traveled along an interstate access
road outside the airport premises. Dkt. 10 at 5; 10-2. Delta
TechOps twice rerouted the engines from Gate 6 to Gate 4,
then again directed the subcontractor back to Gate 6. Dkt.
1-1 at 105-06. Travel between Gates 4 and 6 did not
require the subcontractor to leave airport premises. Dkt.
subcontractor attached straps over the tops of the engines to
secure tarps during the final trip to Gate 6. Dkt. 1-1 at
105-06. When the engines arrived at Gate 6 the last time, the
Delta TechOps personnel noted the straps had damaged the
engines. Id. at 11. Three days later, Delta rejected
the damaged engines and cancelled the leases between Delta
and Spectre. Id. at 13.
sued Crane in the 157th District Court of Harris County,
Texas for breach of contract, negligence, gross negligence,
fraud, and fraud in the inducement. Dkt. 1 Crane removed the
case to this court claiming federal jurisdiction over
international air carriages. Id.; see
Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for
International Carriage by Air, May 28, 1999, T.I.A.S. No.
13038 [hereinafter Montreal Convention]. Spectre now
moves to remand the case, arguing that this Court lacks
jurisdiction because the Montreal Convention is inapplicable.
may remove to federal court “any civil action brought
in a State court of which the district courts of the United
States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. §
1441. The party seeking removal bears the burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction. Willy v. Coastal
Corp., 855 F.2d 1160, 1164 (5th Cir. 1988). This
statutory right to removal is strictly construed because
“removal jurisdiction raises significant federalism
concerns.” Id. Therefore, “any doubt
about the propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of
remand.” Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indem.
Co., 491 F.3d 278, 281–82 (5th Cir. 2007).
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions arising under the . . . treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Montreal Convention
is a multilateral treaty “that governs the rights and
liabilities of . . . carriers in international air
transportation, ” and “preempts state-law causes
of action relating to the international carriage of . . .
cargo.” Bridgeman v. United Continental Holdings,
Inc., 552 Fed. App’x. 294, 296 (5th Cir. 2013).
argues that the Montreal Convention does not apply because
the damage to the engines did not occur during
“carriage by air, ” but instead on the ground at
the Atlanta Airport. Dkt. 6. Crane argues the engines were
damaged during carriage by air because any alleged damage
occurred before final delivery and within the confines of the
Atlanta Airport. Dkt. 9 ¶¶ 15, 16.
Convention applies to all international carriage of persons,
baggage, or cargo performed by aircraft for reward.”
Montreal Convention art. 1, ¶ 1. A carrier is liable for
damage to cargo sustained during “carriage by
air.” Id. art. 18, ¶ 1. Carriage by air
is broadly defined as “the period during which the
cargo is in the charge of the carrier.” Id.
art. 18, ¶ 3. Carrier as used in the Montreal Convention
applies equally to the contracting party and her agent.
See e.g., Samsung Austin Semiconducter, LLC, v.
Integrated Airline Servs., No. 4:12-CV-688-A, 2013 WL
105380, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 9, 2013); Am. Home
Assurance Co. v. Kuehne & Nagel (AG & Co.) KG,
544 F.Supp. 2d 261 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). “[C]arriage by air
does not extend to any carriage by land . . . performed
outside an airport.” Montreal Convention art. 18,
¶ 4. Carriage by air is presumed when “such
carriage takes place in performance of a contract for
carriage by air, for the purpose of loading, delivery or
transhipment . . .subject to proof to the contrary.”
record shows that the damage to the engines occurred when
Crane’s subcontractor tightened straps over the top of
the engines “on the very last portion of the evening
when [the subcontractor] was instructed to go back to Gate 6
from Gate 4.” Dkt. 1-1 at 105-06. This occurred on
airport premises while in the charge of the carrier, and
therefore the damage to the engines was sustained
“during the carriage by air, ” and the Montreal
Convention governs liability in this case. Montreal
Convention art. 18.