Mad Enough to Sue?
Has the cavalier attitude of an airline that's messed up days of your life made you angry enough to want to sue? Jane Waun of Michigan has maybe paved the way: In a very unusual case, she's just won $1,350 in a small claims court against Spirit Airlines.
Last summer Waun, her husband and her elderly parents were due to fly Spirit from Detroit to Fort Myers, Fla. Their flight was canceled. Agents at the airport wouldn't help, but instead gave them a phone number that put Waun on hold for hours, and in the end never answered her pleas for a new flight.
Waun took her family to a hotel for the night and bought four new tickets on Northwest for the next day. She later asked Spirit to reimburse her for the extra expenses. The airline credited her the price of the unused tickets, but wouldn't pony up for other expenses. Waun told the Detroit Free Press she would have been satisfied with an apology. When she couldn't get that, she turned to small claims court.
Spirit failed to show up at the first hearing, so she won by default. Spirit filed for a reheaing, but the judge wasn't impressed with the argument that Spirit didn't know about the first hearing, given that a Spirit rep had signed a hearing notice form.
The judge also didn't buy the usual airline language from Spirit's Contract of Carriage that states it has no obligation to operate a flight. Waun's judgment reimbursed her for hotel, meals, a missed night at her destination and the extra expense of the next-day tickets.
Good luck if you try that route -- airlines generally aren't so dim that they fail to show up in court. In fact, to avoid a precedent they'll often pull out big guns and argue that airline law is a federal case. Once a case moves to federal court, to win you'd have to be an aviation attorney or a deep-pocketed eccentric willing to spend big bucks to make a point.
If you have an airline outrage story you think worthy of a judgment, tell Judge Cindy. I can't award you anything, but will rule on whether you'd have a case in my courtroom, should I ever have one.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | July 18, 2007 11:37 AM
Posted by: JohninDC | July 18, 2007 11:57 AM
Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 12:32 PM
Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 1:55 PM
Posted by: csdiego | July 18, 2007 1:55 PM
Posted by: cindy loose | July 18, 2007 2:04 PM
Posted by: Walt N | July 18, 2007 4:15 PM
Posted by: Ajia | September 5, 2007 8:47 PM
Posted by: cindy loose | September 6, 2007 10:16 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.