Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Airline Deregulation Act Doesn't Preempt All Suits

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Airline Deregulation Act Doesn't Preempt All Suits

Article excerpt

FEDERAL PREEMPTION

Airline Deregulation Act Doesn't Preempt All Suits

The Ninth Circuit consolidated five passenger injury cases against airlines in order to hold that the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 does not shield airlines from state tort law claims. Charas v. Trans World Airlines, 160 F.3d 1259 (1998), rehearing denied, 169 F.3d 594 (1999). In doing so, the court had to backtrack and expressly overrule two of its recent decisions-Harris v. American Airlines, 55 F.3d 1472 (1995), and Gee v. Southwest Airlines, 110 F.3d 1400 (1997).

The cases were state tort actions based on airline negligence-a passenger struck by a service cart pushed by a flight attendant, a passenger hit in the head with baggage when another passenger opened an overhead bin, a passenger who tripped over a piece of luggage left in the aisle by a flight attendant, a passenger who fell while alighting on a stairway, and a passenger who was bumped from a flight when she couldn't provide a physician's assurance that she was not at risk of a heart attack during the flight. The airlines won in Ninth Circuit district courts.

Reversing, the en banc Ninth Circuit ruled that none of the claims were barred by federal preemption and the Airline Deregulation Act. …

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