bhmbaglock
Posts: 2489
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Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:02 am

http://channels.netscape.com/travel/...sc=1110&photoid=20051108DCA163_GTY

In a nutshell, divorced dad gets bumped on week long ski trip with his daughter and CO won't give him a seat until the day before he is to leave. To make it worse, they won't even pull his bags off the plane and it takes him three days to get them back. Judge awards damages.

One interesting thing, this guy is a lawyer and CO sent a CSM to represent them iinstead of a lawyer - WTF?

Anybody else ever hear of a case like this? Think it will be the new lawsuit du jour?

Oh yeah, the obligatory relevant threads:

WB Being Kept Alive! by CCA 2005-11-13 16:33:48
QF 743's For Low Cost Long Haul by Simpilicity 2005-11-12 06:51:31
Anybody Here Work For North American Airlines? by RamerinianAir 2005-11-03 00:38:25
Pay For VS Lounge Access? by BA380 2005-11-14 11:46:07
Interline Discount For China Tour? by Seamefly 2005-11-08 23:05:08
Where are all of my respected members going?
 
brokenrecord
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:18 am

I would have a hard time not siding with the guy. Obviously we don't know the plaintiff's attitude during the incident, but it seems there is some serious insensitivity on the part of CO.
 
goingboeing
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:29 am

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Thread starter):
One interesting thing, this guy is a lawyer and CO sent a CSM to represent them iinstead of a lawyer - WTF?

From my understanding, in small claims court, you can't hire a lawyer to represent you. That doesn't bar a lawyer from representing himself. I know that when I sued Ford in small claims court, they did not send a lawyer, but sent a rep from the local Ford office.
 
jamman
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:29 am

I'd be peed off if CO had done that to me, you would think it would be policy to get the bags off if it wasn't a same day flight?
Still I would only go to court if CO didn't do the usual standard compensation.
Phoning it in from a place with no phones.
 
Dougloid
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:31 am

Back in the day my son came to Michigan to visit me and for the return we took him to Detroit. Republic had substituted a smaller aircraft for the MD80 at the last minute and they told us there was no seat for him. Unescorted 8 year old boy. The ticket had been paid for in cash some months previously. It was my position then and now that the seat was bought and paid for waaaaaaaaaay before they sold any other seats on that flight-first come first served and all that. My wife tells the ramp agent "If this kid doesn't get on that airplane you better call the cops, because one or both of us is going to jail." Needless to say, he got on board-I think one of the cabin crew gave up her jump seat.
If you believe in coincidence, you haven't looked close enough-Joe Leaphorn
 
ikramerica
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:33 am

And the damages in small claims court are not enough to pay a lawyer. Just send a salaried employee.

Or alternately, just don't send anyone and have a default judgement put against you. For CO, it must have been a matter of principle, since they probably feel the contract of carriage should actually be applied. I think the guy got screwed over, but was it illegal?
Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
 
Bridogger6
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:49 am

Quoting Dougloid (Reply 4):
The ticket had been paid for in cash some months previously. It was my position then and now that the seat was bought and paid for waaaaaaaaaay before they sold any other seats on that flight-first come first served and all that.

The only time this helps is when you get a preassigned seat assignment... otherwise it just goes by order of check in at the airport, no matter when you paid for your ticket, as far as who gets seats and who does not. Also, as insensitive as it may be, in keeping with the schedule, airlines are in many cases unable to pull bags off a flight for invols and even volunteers as it is usually not known until close to the last minute if there are indeed going to be invols or if vols will be needed.
 
lincoln
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 3:11 am

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Thread starter):
One interesting thing, this guy is a lawyer and CO sent a CSM to represent them iinstead of a lawyer - WTF?

As others have commented, in many (all?) jurisdictions lawyers are barred from representing others in small claimes court.

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 5):
Or alternately, just don't send anyone and have a default judgement put against you. For CO, it must have been a matter of principle, since they probably feel the contract of carriage should actually be applied. I think the guy got screwed over, but was it illegal?

Granted, with the generall accuracy of media I may regret saying this, but... If things unfolded as they seem to have-- the pax was involuntarially denied boarding and refused (or didn't cash) the involuntary denied boarding compensation he is entitled to sue (I beleive the foundation for this was something like Nader v. U.S. Airways, but I'm not a lawyer so...)

Lincoln
CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
 
ETStar
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:16 am

Good to hear that this person was able to recoup lost $$ from the airline. At least it shows that the passenger does have rights. A fair hearing in front of a judge, without having to deal with lawyers et al.
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 4:36 am

What was interesting here is that the NY Post has an article this morning that says that airlines are obligated to pay "reasonable expenses". Considering how often on Airline we see Southwest just SCREW people due to overbooking, "Sorry, you may be able to get out tomorrow night", never offering carriage on another carrier, only offering to refund the worthless ticket (or times 2 that amount), I wonder whether that "reasonable expenses" line is true. If it is, then the airlines are getting away with murder.

And not only was the guy a laywer, he was an *aviation* lawyer, who apparently very politely cited the relevant provisions and asked for relief, which he was refused at the airport. He says that CO then sent him a really nasty letter saying that he was only entitled to $400. That's when he sued.

Again, I'm not sure whether his interpretation of the law is correct. If it is, then it opens up a whole new avenue of compensation.
 
bhmbaglock
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:46 am

Quoting Lincoln (Reply 7):
As others have commented, in many (all?) jurisdictions lawyers are barred from representing others in small claimes court.

I would think that they would send an in house lawyer who is also a company employee. I don't think this is prohibited but as with others on this thread, I am no lawyer.
Where are all of my respected members going?
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:54 pm

Quoting Bridogger6 (Reply 6):
airlines are in many cases unable to pull bags off a flight for invols and even volunteers

Hmmmm...what happened to positive bag matching? I guess I can understand the logic of not needing to pull bags for invols (from a safety perspective, certainly not a humane one), but for volunteers?
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:04 pm

Quoting Lincoln (Reply 7):
As others have commented, in many (all?) jurisdictions lawyers are barred from representing others in small claimes court.

It varies. Here in New York City, the Small Claims Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York permits claimants and defendants to hire an attorney if they choose to do so, but it is not required. The small claims part here handles claims up to $5000.

Outside of Small Claims Court, people always have the right to represent themselves, but a corporation usually must be represented by an attorney.

[Edited 2005-11-18 06:05:28]
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:37 pm

FWIW, I did a little research, and CO's contract of carriage now covers the issue in Rule 25, rather than the old Rule 240.

It says, in sum, that assuming that you comply fully with all ticketing and check in requirements, they won't bump you until they've sought volunteers and not enough volunteers volunteered to allow you to board.

They have a boarding priority as follows: disabled people and unaccompanied kids under 15, then people who have seat assignments regardless of when they checked in, then people who checked in timely but don't have a seat assignment, in the order that they checked in.

If you are involuntarily denied boarding, they have to put you on the next CO flight to your destination (without stopover) on which seats are available, regardless of class of service (eg they have to put you in First if there's a seat). If you request it (and you have to ask for it -- note this well) they must put you on any other carrier's flight that is scheduled to get you to your destination BEFORE the scheduled arrival at the destination of the next available Continental flight. IN ADDITION TO THIS (and this is often where people get confused/screwed), they must pay you two times the value of the coupon for that leg of your trip, up to $400, unless they get you there within 2 hours of your originally-scheduled US (not foreign, then it's 4 hours) arrival, in which case it's one time the value of the coupon, unless the alternate transportation is scheduled to get you there within one hour of the arrival time, then you get no compensation. Also, you don't get compensation if they fly you on your original flight in a different class of service; there, you just get a refund of, say, the difference between first and coach if you were confirmed in First but flew coach.

The guy in question declined the offer of compensation in accordance with the above scheme, and thus did not waive his rights or accept the limitation of liability as to consequential damages that kicks in under Rule 25 if you accept it. He claims that, therefore, he was entitled to reasonable compensation. Interesting theory. Actually it makes sense given that they told him the next flight they could get him on was days away.
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:48 pm

By the way, I finally answered my own question about what happens to the poor saps on "Airline". Turns out, there's a major difference between Southwest's Contract of Carriage and, for example, CO's. CO promises to put you on another carrier, regardless of class, for free, if it will get you there earlier than the next available CO flight. Southwest doesn't. That's a meaningful distinction.
 
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PA110
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 5:02 pm

Quoting Wjcandee (Reply 14):
By the way, I finally answered my own question about what happens to the poor saps on "Airline". Turns out, there's a major difference between Southwest's Contract of Carriage and, for example, CO's. CO promises to put you on another carrier, regardless of class, for free, if it will get you there earlier than the next available CO flight. Southwest doesn't. That's a meaningful distinction.

This is the ONLY reason why I won't fly WN anymore. Although I really admire the carrier and their success, I've been stranded several times by WN on the last flight of the evening, because they overbooked, and I was at the gate more than 90 mins ahead of time. Because they won't reroute you to another carrier, they delay the departure, begging and pleading for volunteers. If they don't get any, your weekend plans are screwed, because they still won't guarantee you space on the next morning's flight unless there are still seats available for sale. If it is already fully booked, all they can do is give you a priority standby status with no guarantees whatsoever.

CO and most majors will gladly reroute you to other carriers if it means they can resolve the situation quickly.
It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
 
Bridogger6
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:30 pm

What I think is interesting is that not only does Southwest not reroute passengers onto other airlines, but other airlines will often refuse to reroute passengers on to Southwest, as it means writing out a check for the full fare ticket.

The one good thing about Southwest when it comes to getting stranded somewhere is that they do not have a hub and spoke system. You can connect to any destination in some way from just about every city they fly to, there are always plenty of options for getting to your destination.
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:57 pm

Quoting Bridogger6 (Reply 16):
You can connect to any destination in some way from just about every city they fly to, there are always plenty of options for getting to your destination.

It doesn't appear that way from what happens to folks on "Airline".
 
AirScoot
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:22 am

Quoting Wjcandee (Reply 17):
It doesn't appear that way from what happens to folks on "Airline".

Seems like the majority of the instances they show on Airline are for last flight of the day - or severe weather somewhere else in the network. One thing I learned from flying WN out of PVD was ALWAYS take an early flight.
 
goingboeing
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:44 am

Quoting Bridogger6 (Reply 16):
What I think is interesting is that not only does Southwest not reroute passengers onto other airlines, but other airlines will often refuse to reroute passengers on to Southwest, as it means writing out a check for the full fare ticket

But imagine...that other airline would only have to write a check for no more than $299. If Southwest had to write out a full fare ticket on another airline...then the skies the limit.
 
FlyingTexan
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:52 am

I would like to offer a different view.

Me thinks Mr. Esq. Stone (the passenger) was too mouthy to one too many CO gate agents. Like maybe Mr. Esq. Stone showed up 30 seconds before boarding was closed and said some choice words like "You better let me on the f&%#ing flight, you (choose choice word)." They involuntary denied boarding, gave him the least amount of compensation according to CO's Contract of Carriage, and conveniently lost his luggage.

Right or wrong – stuff like that happens. Every day.

And to add to this little story, I envision Mr. Esq. Stone standing there saying "I'm going to sue you asses if you don’t let me on that flight!"

Well, how many times have you heard that at the airport?

Me, about 1,000 times, maybe once per flight.

Well, they got sued this time.

 Wink
"Wouldn't your boss like to fly home nonstop at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?" -Airline Exec to Congressional Staffer
 
Sinlock
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Sat Nov 19, 2005 12:54 am

Quoting Wjcandee (Reply 11):
Hmmmm...what happened to positive bag matching? I guess I can understand the logic of not needing to pull bags for invols (from a safety perspective, certainly not a humane one), but for volunteers?

After 9/11 and all US airports transitioned to 100% screening of bags the airlines are not obligated (from a safety standpoint) to remove bags of passengers that are not onboard the aircraft at departure.
 
wjcandee
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:32 am

Quoting Sinlock (Reply 21):
all US airports transitioned to 100% screening of bags

I thought that the bag matching was a (pathetic, useless, political BS) substitute for the fact that there WASN'T 100 percent screening of checked bags. The new law said 100 percent screening, and they couldn't pull it off, so they said "we have 100 percent screening or bag match". Maybe it's improved since then, but I don't really believe that they're even now putting 100 percent of checked bags through xray and explosives detection, despite the big show with the big dumb machines in the lobby. Are they?
 
lincoln
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RE: Small Claims Damages For Being Bumped

Sat Nov 19, 2005 10:55 am

Quoting FlyingTexan (Reply 20):
Like maybe Mr. Esq. Stone showed up 30 seconds before boarding was closed and said some choice words like "You better let me on the f&%#ing flight, you (choose choice word)." They involuntary denied boarding, gave him the least amount of compensation according to CO's Contract of Carriage, and conveniently lost his luggage.

If Mr. Stone showed up at the gate :30 before the flight closed, he would not be entitled to IDBC, as he wouldn't have been in the gate area the requisite 10 (or is it 15?) minutes prior to departure-- the fact that he was offered compensation tells me that he had complied with this requirement and/or was not being a complete a--hole. ("I'm sorry, Mr. Stone, had you been here 9 and a half minutes ago you would have gotten $400, but since you're being a jerk...")

Quoting Sinlock (Reply 21):
After 9/11 and all US airports transitioned to 100% screening of bags the airlines are not obligated (from a safety standpoint) to remove bags of passengers that are not onboard the aircraft at departure.

My understanding is pax can be involuntarially seperated from their baggage -- for example the case above, or if the airline makes the decision to move the pax to another flight, but pax may not be voluntarially seperated from their bags -- for example, they choose a different flight, fail to board after their bag was checked, decide once onboard that they don't feel like flying.

Lincoln
CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile