999 F.Supp. 728 (S.D.N.Y. 1998), 94 Civ. 5931, Lam v. Aeroflot Russian Intern. Airlines

Docket Nº:94 Civ. 5931(WK).
Citation:999 F.Supp. 728
Party Name:Grace LAM, Individually, and as Executrix of the Estate of Daniel Y. Lam, deceased, Plaintiff, v. AEROFLOT RUSSIAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES, Defendant.
Case Date:April 14, 1998
Court:United States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Southern District of New York

Page 728

999 F.Supp. 728 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)

Grace LAM, Individually, and as Executrix of the Estate of Daniel Y. Lam, deceased, Plaintiff,

v.

AEROFLOT RUSSIAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES, Defendant.

No. 94 Civ. 5931(WK).

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

April 14, 1998

Page 729

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 730

James Kreindler, David Fiol, Kreindler & Kreindler, New York City, for Plaintiff.

Michael J. Holland, Condon & Forsyth, New York City, for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

WHITMAN KNAPP, Senior District Judge.

This is an action by Grace Lam, individually, and as executrix of the estate of her deceased husband, Daniel Lam, against Aeroflot Russian International Airlines. She seeks damages in excess of $10 million arising out of the death of her husband resulting from the crash of Aeroflot Flight No. SU593 in Novokuznetsk, Kemerovskaya Province, Russian Federation en route from Moscow to Hong Kong on March 22, 1994. Subject matter jurisdiction--or lack of it--is governed by a treaty of the United States, the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air, concluded at Warsaw, Poland, October 12, 1929 ("Warsaw Convention"), as amended by the Hague Protocol of 1955. It is plaintiff's position that courts of the United States have such jurisdiction because the Aeroflot flight on which her husband met his death was a segment of his round-trip business tour beginning and ending in Denver.

The defendant, on the other hand, has moved for summary judgment, contending that since Aeroflot issued tickets only for a journey beginning and ending in Hong Kong, the courts of the United States have no jurisdiction. For reasons that follow, we deny defendant's motion.

BACKGROUND

In March 1994, Daniel Lam was a United States citizen who made his home in Denver, CO with his wife, the plaintiff in this action. In early 1994, he decided to take a business trip to several cities in China and Russia, ultimately returning to Denver. He intended and attempted to book his entire itinerary through his travel agent in Denver, Greenwood Travel. Lam asked Greenwood to book air travel from Denver to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to mainland China, China to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Russia, Russia to Hong Kong, and finally Hong Kong to Denver. 1 Greenwood proceeded to book him on United Airlines from Denver to Hong Kong (and back), on Dragon Air from Hong Kong to mainland China (and back), and then attempted to book with Aeroflot the Hong Kong to Russia segment of the trip.

Due to what appears to have been a computer or communications problem with Aeroflot's ticketing system, Greenwood, an authorized agent for the issuance of tickets for flights on Aeroflot which regularly issued such tickets, proved unable to secure tickets on Aeroflot for the Hong Kong/Russia segment of the journey. When Greenwood called Aeroflot's United States office to attempt to remedy the problem, it was told that Lam should instead book the ticket through an overseas agent. Following that suggestion, Lam sent an "urgent" fax to Li Wah Shing, a travel agent in Hong Kong, in effect asking him to act as his agent and purchase tickets for the segment from Hong Kong to Russia and back. Agent Li obtained the needed Aeroflot tickets from Global Union Express (Hong Kong) Ltd. ("G.U.E."), the sole sales agent for Aeroflot in Hong Kong. The following is a reproduction of the ticket issued by G.U.E. at agent Li's request:

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(Image Omitted)

It will be observed that a box at the top of the ticket indicating "CONJUNCTION TICKETS" was left blank. Affidavits submitted by agent Li demonstrate that he was fully familiar with Lam's travel plans but was never asked about them...

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3 practice notes
  • 180 F.Supp.2d 1160 (D.Or. 2001), Civ. 99-1348, Coyle v. P.T. Garuda Indonesia
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit District of Oregon
    • June 27, 2001
    ...trip and knew that they intended to return to Oregon. See Gasca, 992 F.Supp. at 1382, n. 3; Lam v. Aeroflot Russian Int'l Airlines, 999 F.Supp. 728, 731 (S.D.N.Y.1998) (Aeroflot's agent in Hong Kong must have been aware that passenger's stop there was but one segment of a larger journey). T......
  • 88 F.Supp.2d 62 (E.D.N.Y. 2000), Civ. A. CV-99-0933, Singh v. Tarom Romanian Air Transport
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • April 5, 2000
    ...was the travel agency that issued and delivered the tickets, viz., Bajaj Travels in Delhi. See Lam v. Aeroflot Russian Int'l Airlines, 999 F.Supp. 728, 732 (S.D.N.Y.1998) (holding that the " 'place of business through which the contract has been made' is the place where the passenger t......
  • 363 F.3d 979 (9th Cir. 2004), 01-35784, Coyle v. P.T. Garuda Indonesia
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • April 12, 2004
    ...that was to ultimately take him back to Miami." Gasca, 992 F.Supp. at 1381. And in Lam v. Aeroflot Russian International Airlines, 999 F.Supp. 728(S.D.N.Y.1998), the Page 993 court not only began from the proposition that the ticket at issue was ambiguous, and therefore that it was app......
3 cases
  • 180 F.Supp.2d 1160 (D.Or. 2001), Civ. 99-1348, Coyle v. P.T. Garuda Indonesia
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit District of Oregon
    • June 27, 2001
    ...trip and knew that they intended to return to Oregon. See Gasca, 992 F.Supp. at 1382, n. 3; Lam v. Aeroflot Russian Int'l Airlines, 999 F.Supp. 728, 731 (S.D.N.Y.1998) (Aeroflot's agent in Hong Kong must have been aware that passenger's stop there was but one segment of a larger journey). T......
  • 88 F.Supp.2d 62 (E.D.N.Y. 2000), Civ. A. CV-99-0933, Singh v. Tarom Romanian Air Transport
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Eastern District of New York
    • April 5, 2000
    ...was the travel agency that issued and delivered the tickets, viz., Bajaj Travels in Delhi. See Lam v. Aeroflot Russian Int'l Airlines, 999 F.Supp. 728, 732 (S.D.N.Y.1998) (holding that the " 'place of business through which the contract has been made' is the place where the passenger t......
  • 363 F.3d 979 (9th Cir. 2004), 01-35784, Coyle v. P.T. Garuda Indonesia
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • April 12, 2004
    ...that was to ultimately take him back to Miami." Gasca, 992 F.Supp. at 1381. And in Lam v. Aeroflot Russian International Airlines, 999 F.Supp. 728(S.D.N.Y.1998), the Page 993 court not only began from the proposition that the ticket at issue was ambiguous, and therefore that it was app......