Continental Airlines, Inc. v. Kiefer

In Continental Airlines, Inc. v. Kiefer, 909 S.W.2d 508, 510 (Tex. 1995), the defendant moved for summary judgment "on all claims brought by" the plaintiffs. After the motion was filed, but before it was heard and decided, the plaintiffs amended their pleadings to add additional claims. The defendant did not amend its motion to address these later claims. The trial court granted what it entitled a "final summary judgment", dismissing the plaintiffs' cause of action" -- "cause", singular -- although multiple causes of action had been asserted. The Court held that the judgment was final, explaining as follows: Finality "must be resolved by a determination of the intention of the court as gathered from the language of the decree and the record as a whole, aided on occasion by the conduct of the parties." 5 RAY W. MCDONALD, TEXAS CIVIL PRACTICE 27:4a, at 7 (John S. Covell, ed., 1992 ed.); see Ferguson v. Ferguson, 161 Tex. 184, 338 S.W.2d 945, 947 (Tex. 1960). In the circumstances described here, we think the district court intended to render a final, appealable judgment. . . . Neither the parties nor the court of appeals have suggested that the judgment was not final. Id. at 277. In Continental Airlines, Inc. v. Kiefer, 920 S.W.2d 274, 39 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 468 (Tex. 1996), the Court decided the extent to which "state common-law personal-injury negligence actions against airlines are preempted by the ADA." Id. at 275. The Court applied a two-part analysis to determine whether the plaintiffs' personal injury claims were preempted. Id. at 281-82; see also 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1). First, the Court examined whether the claims related to airline rates, routes, or services. Id. at 281. Second, we explored whether the claims constituted the enactment or enforcement of a state law, rule, regulation, standard or other provision. Id. at 281-82. The Court concluded that, although the plaintiffs' personal injury claims clearly related to airlines' services, their claims did not amount to enforcement of a state law and thus were not preempted. Id. at 282. In reaching this conclusion, the Court acknowledged the difficulty in differentiating between claims that are preempted and those that are not. Id. at 281. The Court noted that, unlike the state consumer protection legislation at issue in Morales, negligence actions do not "carry the same 'potential for intrusive regulation of airline business practices . . . .'" Id. at 282.