Lu Junhong v. Boeing Co., No. 14-1825 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, airplane passengers, filed suit against Boeing in state court after a Boeing 777 hit a seawall at the end of a runway at the San Francisco International Airport and injured 49 passengers, killing three passengers. Suits were also brought in federal courts and were consolidated by the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) under 28 U.S.C. 1407(a). Boeing removed the state suits to federal court, asserting admiralty jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1333 and asserting federal officials' right to have claims against them resolved by federal courts under 28 U.S.C. 1442. The MDL decided that the state suits should be transferred to California to participate in the consolidated pretrial proceedings, but the district court remanded them for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court agreed with the district court that Boeing was not entitled to remove under section 1442(a)(1) because Boeing was not acting as a federal officer in light of Watson v. Philip Morris Cos. However, the court concluded that subject-matter jurisdiction exists under section 1333(1) because section 1333(1) includes accidents caused by problems that occur in transocean commerce. In this case, the plane was a trans-ocean flight, a substitute for an ocean-going vessel. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions.