OAHN NGUYEN CHUNG, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of LISA TAM CHUNG, and LIEM CHUNG, Plaintiffs, Appellants, OLLIE DAILY, LOREN DAILY and PATRICIA DAILY, Plaintiffs,
STUDENTCITY.COM, INC., Defendant, Appellee.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Rya W. Zobel, U.S. District Judge]
P. Musacchio, with whom Anthony Tarricone and Kreindler and
Kreindler LLP were on brief, for appellants.
E. Gould, with whom Robert C. Mueller and Smith Duggan Buell
& Rufo LLP were on brief, for appellee.
Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Lynch, Circuit Judges.
courts have authority to enter summary judgment on grounds
not raised by the parties. That authority, though, is far
from unbridled. Here, the district court - with the
acquiescence of the parties - limited pretrial discovery to
specific issues. It later entered summary judgment on a
completely different issue - an issue not briefed and on
which discovery had not been allowed. Concluding, as we do,
that the district court's shift in focus exceeded its
authority, we vacate the judgment and remand for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
rehearse the facts in the light most amenable to the parties
opposing summary judgment (here, the plaintiffs). See
Jones v. Secord, 684 F.3d 1, 3 (1st
Cir. 2012). StudentCity.com, Inc. (StudentCity) is a Delaware
corporation that maintains its principal place of business in
Massachusetts. It sells vacation packages to students,
including those traveling for spring break or to celebrate
fall of 2007, Lisa Tam Chung and Loren Daily were high-school
seniors in Grand Prairie, Texas. A StudentCity representative
contacted Loren to promote the firm's wares and piqued
her curiosity about booking a graduation trip. Once a
critical mass of students had expressed interest about such a
trip, the StudentCity representative held an informational
meeting. The representative assured the assemblage (including
several parents) that StudentCity staff attend all events and
that participating students would not be permitted to go
anywhere unaccompanied. She also distributed promotional
materials that stated in pertinent part:
. StudentCity will provide "[o]n site staff at all
scheduled events - beginning to end."
. StudentCity "staffs all scheduled events from
beginning to end."
. StudentCity maintains "the largest staff-to-student
ratio and our 24-hour staff is there to give you the peace of
mind you need."
. StudentCity staff will be present "to assure that
everyone is having a great and responsible time."
parents met with the StudentCity representative and read the
written materials. Lisa relayed StudentCity's
representations to her parents, who had limited English
proficiency. With the blessing of both families, the girls
purchased vacation packages for a June 2008 trip to
Cancún, Mexico, adding an optional snorkeling
snorkeling excursion took place on June 7, when the
participants boarded the SS Sea Star, a catamaran owned and
operated by Servicios Maritimos y Acua del Caribe SA de
C.V. (SMA). A StudentCity staff member transported
Lisa and Loren to the Sea Star, a vessel approved to carry
eighty passengers and three crew members for this kind of
outing. On the day in question, however, it
carried at least 120 StudentCity travelers and no fewer than
210 persons in total. No on-duty StudentCity representative
was on board.
snorkeling trip had a tragic ending: the Sea Star hit a coral
reef and began to take on water, yet the crew provided no
assistance to the passengers (indeed, some crew members
deserted ship). Acting on their own, Lisa and Loren donned
life preservers and tried to reach safety by grabbing a rope
that extended between the Sea Star and a small private
vessel. Their efforts failed and they were pulled under the
water. Loren suffered serious injuries, but survived; Lisa
was pronounced brain dead at a local hospital and died on
June 10, 2008.
an investigation, the harbormaster concluded that the
"concentration of passengers in the boat" caused a
"considerable imbalance, " which most likely led to
the Sea Star's collision with the coral reef. Similarly,
the Mexican government attributed the accident to the
catamaran's "imprudent overload" and the
"negligent performance" of the captain.
action ensued. Although this suit originally had a wider
compass, the only claim that is still velivolant is the claim
for Lisa's wrongful death - a claim brought by her
parents, Oahn Nguyen Chung (individually and in her capacity
as administratrix of Lisa's estate) and Liem
Chung. As to this claim, StudentCity moved to
dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), 56(a). The
district court denied the motion to dismiss, but reserved
decision on summary ...