United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
G. EDMUNDS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Golden Hawk M lurgical, Inc. seeks recovery from Defendant
Federal Express Corporation for the loss of two of
Plaintiff's shipments. Plaintiff asserts three theories
of liability: Count I, breach of contract; Count II, breach
of duty as a bailee; and Count III, conversion. (Dkt. 1-1.)
Defendant has moved for partial summary judgment, asking the
Court to hold that: (1) federal law preempts Counts II and
III; and (2) Count I is limited to $100 per shipment. (Dkt.
10.) For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's motion for partial summary judgment.
August 2015, the parties entered into two contracts to ship
Plaintiff's precious m s and gems via overnight air mail.
The first shipment, bearing tracking number 774191828584, was
destined for Fairfield, Ohio. (Dkt. 10-1.) The second
shipment, bearing tracking number 774190982603, was destined
for Attleboro, Massachusetts. (Id.) Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant failed to deliver the precious m s and
gems in either shipment. (Dkt. 12, at 5.) Plaintiff further
alleges that one of Defendant's employees likely stole
the goods, replacing them with rocks from one of
Defendant's shipping locations. (Id.)
terms and conditions of the parties' contracts appear on
the airbills (Dkt. 12, at 21) and the FedEx Service Guide
referenced on both. (Dkt. 12, at 22-31.) These terms
expressly limit Defendant's liability to $100,
"unless a higher value is declared and paid for."
(Dkt. 10-1.) Plaintiff did not declare a value on either
shipment, nor did Plaintiff pay a value higher than $100 in
relation to either shipping contract. (Dkt. 10-2, at 3.)
originally filed suit in state court, and Defendant removed
the case to this Court in November 2015. (Dkt. 1.) Defendant
now moves for partial summary judgment.
judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is proper
when the movant “shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When
reviewing the record, “the court must view the evidence
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw
all reasonable inferences in its favor.” U.S.
S.E.C. v. Sierra Brokerage Servs., Inc., 712 F.3d 321,
327 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal citation omitted).
“[S]ummary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a
material fact is ‘genuine, ' that is, if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
Preemption of Counts II and III
Count II, breach of duty as bailee, and Count III,
conversion, Plaintiff seeks to have the Court enforce
Michigan statutory and common law. Defendant argues that the
Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) preempts both of these
claims, entitling Defendant to judgment as a matter of
For the reasons stated below, the Court agrees with
contains the following preemption provision: "[A] State,
a political subdivision of a state ... may not enact or
enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the
force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service
of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under
this subpart." 49 U.S.C. § 41713(b)(1). In
Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., the Supreme
Court construed this provision broadly to preclude all claims
"having a connection with, or reference to, airline
rates, routes, or services." 504 U.S. 374, 384 (1992).
The Court determined that Congress included a broad
preemption provision to promote competition and "ensure
that the States would not undo federal deregulation with
regulation of their own." Id. at 378.
Morales, the Court has further defined the scope of
the preemption provision. In American Airlines v.
Wolens, it determined that the ADA preempted suits
alleging a "violation of state-imposed obligations"
but not suits alleging a breach of "self-imposed
undertakings." 513 U.S. 219, 228 (1995). The plaintiffs
in Wolens had asserted one claim for breach of
contract and another for a violation of the Illinois Consumer
Fraud Act. Id. The Court ultimately held that the
ADA preempted the statutory fraud claim but not the breach of
contract claim. Id. The Act pre-empted only the
fraud claim, the Court explained, because that cause of
action did more than "simply give effect to bargains
offered by the airlines and accepted by airline
customers." Id. at 228.
in Northwest Inc. v. Ginsberg, the Court reaffirmed
that preemption under the ADA depends on whether a claim
"is based on a state-imposed obligation or simply one
that the parties voluntarily undertook." 134 S.Ct. 1422,
1431 (2014). The Court went on to hold that the ADA
pre-empted a claim alleging a breach of the covenant of ...