Myers v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation et al

Filing 29

ORDER: Granting in Part Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 17 . Defendants' motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff's IIED claim is granted. Defendants' motion is denied as to plaintiff's breach of contract claim. Signed on 11/12/10 by Chief Judge Ann L. Aiken. (lae)

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Myers v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation et al Doc. 29 FILED"iO NOV 15 09:26uSDC-ORE IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON ANTHONY JAMES MEYERS, PIa iff, . No. 09-6276-AA O P I N I O N AND ORDER v. NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPOR~TION, a ration doing business as AMTRAK; and FREDERIC CARROLL, Defendants. Claud Ingram P.O. Box 7941 Eugene, OR 97401 Attorney for plainti James L. Hiller Hitt Hiller Monfils Williams LLP 411 SW 2nd Avenue, Ste. 400 Port , OR 97204 At for defendants 1 - O P I N I O N AND ORDER Dockets.Justia.com AIKEN, ef Anthony James rs filed suit seeking damages entional 1 Rail Plainti inst defendants inflict Pas r breach of contract and stress. Defendants Nat of emotional r Corporation and Frederic Carroll ("Amtrak") move for pIa iff's complaint fails to granted. part. Defendants' motion summary judgment, arguing state a claim on which relief can is ed in rt and ed I. BACKGROUND The following facts are not in both ies' submitted briefings. spute are taken from On October 20, 2008, plaintiff was a pass train rated by defendant National Railroad Pass r on an Amtrak r Corporation, traveling from Portl California. Amtrak has a strict no-smoking licy. , to Merced, Plaintiff had or to October 20, utilized Amtrak's rail transport services 2008, and was famil PIa passengers. t r with is poli iff was in the lounge car and talking with five other of female ssengers shared th the group she a tattoo in a PIa e area, and offered to show them o her tattoo. iff, the female, and three other men went cap restroom in the I car to see the single-occupancy, t tattoo. 2 - O P I N I O N AND ORDER While plaintiff was the hroom, he observed one of the to be a baggie of men show another passenger what juana. Meanwhile, defendant two other Amtrak coming from the defendant Carroll plaintiff. The pass scove rs ric Carroll, an AIntrak or, s allegedly smelled marijuana smo throom. Upon investigation, ng 1 group ih the bathroom, the bathroom pushed st Ca and dispersed to Soon a plaintiff on one of the he was wearing. r train. parts of the train. occupants fled, Carroll located Carroll recognized s by the large, int ff as being stinct earrings Carroll asked the train engineer to contact the local police department intended for train for be the next town of Oakridge, Ore Oakridge police to remove rt of the group in the 1 Carroll iff from the car bathroom who he believed was smoking marijuana. At Oa plaintiff. f the police boarded t and removed police did not arrest , but instead took a dinner voucher and a ace to a local church, where he rece to the ght. next morning, plaintiff took t was bus back to c up by his girlfri 3 - OPINION AND ORDER Plaintiff alleges that Amtrak breached the contract between Amtrak and plaintiff by removing plaintiff from the train and failing to transport him to his destination. He also alleges resulting intentional infliction of emotional distress (lIED) from Amtrak's conduct during the incident. He is seeking $625.00 in economic damages for breach of contract and $100,000 in non e c o n o m i c damages for lIED. II. STANDARD OF REVIEW Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." 56 (C) ) . Fed. R. Civ. P. The materiality of a fact is determined by the T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. 630 (9th Cir. 1987). substantive law on the issue. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, The moving party has the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. 477 u.S. 317, 323 (1986). CelotexCorp. v. Catrett, If the moving party shows the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and identify facts which show a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324. Special rules of construction apply to evaluating summary judgment motions: (1) all reasonable doubts as to the existence 4 - OPINION AND ORDER of genuine issues of material fact should be resolved against the moving party; and (2) all inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. T.W. Elec., 809 F.2d at 630. III. DISCUSSION A. BREACH OF CONTRACT Plaintiff purchased a ticket to ride on Amtrak's train on October 20, 2008. Plaintiff maintains that this ticket represented a contract that Amtrak breached by causing his removal from the train. The passenger-carrier relationship is a contract relationship. Radley v. Columbia S.R. Co. 44 Or. 332, 337 (1903), Wabash R. Co. v. Davidson, 168 F. 2d 300, 303 (6th Cir. 1903). The relationship may exist by express or implied Neidart v. Portland Stages, Inc., 232 Or. 514, 376 The passenger holds himself out to the carrier Radley contract. P.2d 92 (1962). for transport and the carrier accepts him as a passenger. v. Columbia S.R. Co., 44 Or. at 337. is required. The assent of both parties Wabash R. Co. v. Davidson, 168 F. 2d at 303. Amtrak does not dispute the existence of a contractual relationship. Rather, Amtrak contends that plaintiff knew of Amtrak's no-smoking policy and he breached their contract by smoking marijuana in the train bathroom. Amtrak maintains that three employees smelled marijuana coming from the lounge car 5 - OPINION AND ORDER bathroom where, defendant Carroll cont holding a marijuana cigarette. was removed in the bat r being amongst a Therefore, Amtrak rna , he saw plainti iff Amtrak also argues that of people smoking marijuana ains it committ train. not possess, smo A~trak no breach by removing plaintiff from Plaintiff contends that he marijuana le on the train and or use caused his removal r men for no reason. Plaintiff admits that at least three were in bathroom when pla iff entered and that one of the of marijuana, but bathroom. Inter no one ry No. iff ,and bathroom occupants revealed a smoked rna juana while he was 3 and Pl. 's Resp.; Pl. Dep., p. 22; Pl. Decl. p. 2. further he denies smoking on t posses ies smoking or possess anyone who was train. marijuana on the tra bathroom with him was Thus, whether plaintiff smoked or marijuana on the train is a disputed, material fact. Amtrak presents no evidence of company policies alleging a non-smoking policy, nor does Amtrak present that it remove passengers associating with who 1 violate Amtrak policies. Because a genuine issue of mate fact exists as to whether plaintiff and the group of smoked while on the train, Amtrak's motion for summary as to the breach contract claim is III 6 - OPINION AND ORDER B. INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS Plaintiff also all distress s ional infliction of emotional (lIED) against Amtrak and Carroll. lIED under Oregon law, pI intended to cause pIa iff To establish a cIa must show that: l} iff severe t emotional distress or knew with substantial certainty conduct would cause such extraordinarily trans behavior; and 3} plainti distress. P.2d 841 (1995); ss stress; 2} defendant's the bound of socially s e fact suffered severe emotional 321 Or. 532, 543, 550 51, 901 198 Or. App. 110, 123 (2005). issue of material fact sts as to I find that no viability of this c The intent element is satisfied if the plaintiff evidence that the severe emotional at 542. That acted with the purpose of stress on the plaintiff. intentionally acted Id. PIa ~~~~, sents icting 321 Or. a way that that him from anti PIa senger iff causes such distress is not enough. defendants i ly caused him distress by ly that they knew with the train, or alternat certainty that t r conduct would cause him distress. alleges that it is "common knowledge that dumping a from a tra in e evening over 600 miles from home rson is a strange community with almost no money on his 7- OPINIO~ AND ORDER tantially certa Memo. in Opp., p. 4. did not "to cause severe emotional distress. However, plainti testified that Carroll Pl. 's Dep., p. 14. end to cause him distress. Moreover, plaintiff has not alleged any ulterior motives Carroll might have had his removal. Plaintiff does not present sufficient facts that defendants intended or knew with substantial certainty that severe emotional distress would result from ir under the circumstances. , t ent element is not met. Additionally, none of the conduct described supports a outside the re inding that defendants' conduct was sufficiently bounds of soci ly tolerable conduct to support a Whether claim for intent 1 infliction of emotional distress. a plaintiff's allegations amount to an extraordinary transgression of the bounds of socially tolerable conduct is a question of law. Harris v. Pameco Corp., 170 Or. App. 164, 12 P.3d 524, 529 (2000). "'Liability s found onl where the conduct has. been so outrageous in racter, so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be rega as atrocious, and utterly ==~~~~~===, Ie a liz 730, community . " 736 (2008) (1965)). 218 Or. App. 348, 358, 179 P. (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts 46 comment d sta In other words, "conduct that is negligent, or otherwise remiss, rather than deliberate, intentional, or. 8 OPINION AND ORDER engaged in by design will not a claim for lIED." v. Clifton, 180 Or. App. 119, 136-37, 41 P.3d 1099, 1110 (2002). The conduct must be "out in the extreme." Hetfeld v. Bostwick, 136 Or. App. 305, 308, 901 P.2d 986 (1995). Defendants' alle extreme. Amtrak, li conduct was not outrageous in the carrier, has the power to remove a y with its policies. Even if Carroll passenger who does not was mistaken in caus conduct is not out Lastly, pIa iff iff's removal from the train, this enough to support an lIED claim. s no evidence that he actually stress. Severe emotional distress im suffered severe emotional and evidence for lIED. stress is a required element of a ======~~~~===' 159 Or. App. 90, 110-111, 976 P.2d 259 Or. 54, 63-64, 485 P.2d 28 1160 (citing (1971)). ~~~~~~~~~~, When severity of the distress, the ion are important factors. Id. at 111, n. 11. intensity and In this court where the and it ' , 31 F. Supp. 2d 792 (D. Or. 1998), summary judgment on plaintiffs' IIED.c aintiffs al res, 1 difficulty sleeping, vomiting ~oss er work, of weight and appetite, anxiety and severe emotional plaintiffs. unpleasant Plaintiff in this case fails to al stress remotely similar to the Miller iff merely alleges that it was diff r him to explain why he was removed from tra 9 OPINION AND ORDER This is not enough; plaintiff does not describe any lasting physical or emotional consequences of the incident. Furthermore, plaintiff admits that his confrontation with Carroll lasted only a few minutes and the incident lacked any hostility or aggression. Even viewing all of the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, no genuine issue of material fact exists as to plaintiff's claim for lIED. Plaintiff presents no evidence of intent, emotional distress, or outrageous conduct to survive a motion for summary judgment on his lIED claim. judgment is granted as to his lIED claim. IV. CONCLUSION Thus, summary For the reasons set forth above, defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc. 17) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Plaintiff failed to submit evidence sufficient to survive summary judgment as to the lIED claim, and defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the lIED claim is GRANTED. However, I find that a genuine issue of fact remains with respect to breach of contract and defendants' motion is DENIED as to this claim. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated this ~day of November, 2010. Ann Aiken C h i e f United States 'District Judge 1 0 - OPINION AND ORDER

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