USA: deplaned passenger's complaint fails to state a viable cause of action under the Montreal Convention

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

The plaintiff and her daughter boarded the aircraft for a Continental flight from Newark to Cancun, Mexico. After a dsipute with the flight attendants over her seating and and while waiting in the forward galley, the plaintiff began talking on her cell phone.  When a flight attendant told her to end the call, she replied that “the pilot didn’t announce not to be on your phone and I’m talking to my Mom” and continued her conversation. The flight attendant then told the plaintiff to stop talking on her phone or else exit the plane. Nevertheless, she continued speaking on the phone for another six or seven minutes. After some resistance by the plaintiff, and after an airline employee allegedly threw some of her carry-on items from the aircraft onto the jetway, she deplaned.

Continental rebooked the plaintiff and her daughter on a later flight, and they arrived in Cancun several hours later than originally scheduled.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Continental in state court, alleging claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.  The airline removed the case to federal court which granted a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Montreal Convention exclusively governed the passenger’s claims and that she had failed to state a viable claim under the Convention. The court found that, although the passenger had complained of “physical manifestations of emotional and mental anguish” in her complaint, she had admitted during her deposition that she had, in fact, not sustained any physical injury as a result of the incident at issue.

Case Rogers v. Continental Airlines (D. N.J. Sept. 21, 2011); find full opinion here>>.

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