A lawsuit by a rabbi, who says that Northwest Airlines booted him from its frequent flyer program for complaining too much, can go forward. The case had initially been dismissed by a lower court that said federal deregulation law pre-empted the man’s claim, but the 9th circuit reversed that decision on Friday.
The class action bad-faith lawsuit said that Northwest, now part of Delta, had, “revoked his membership arbitrarily because he complained too frequently about the services.”
In his ruling, Judge Robert Beezer wrote, “When Congress passed the ADA, it dismantled a federal regulatory structure that had existed since 1958. By including a preemption clause, congress intended to ensure that the states would not undo the deregulation with regulation of their own. Congress’s ‘manifest purpose’ was to make the airline industry more efficient by unleashing the market forces of competition – it was not to immunize the airline industry from liability for common law contract claims. Congress did not intend to convert airlines into quasi-government agencies, complete with sovereign immunity.”
That might come as a blow to the self-image of a number of airlines out there.
Frequent-Flying Rabbi Can Sue Northwest-Delta [Courthouse News Service]