USA: summary judgement for airline in overbooking case upheld

Andrew P. Kalick purchased tickets for a North West Airlines flight from Kansas City to Philadelphia and was denied boarding as the flight was full. An NWA agent advised Kalick that she had instead booked him on an American Airlines flight to Philadelphia with a layover in Dallas. For reasons that are unclear from the record, Kalick missed his connecting flight and had to stay in the Dallas airport overnight and arrived in Philadelphia one day later.Kalick filed a suit in the District Court alleging that NWA violated Department of Transportation regulations concerning compensation of passengers bumped from oversold flights. In addition, Kalick asserted state common law claims for breach of contract and fraud. He requested compensatory and punitive damages totaling $163,000.The District Court entered an order concluding that the DOT regulations do not create a private right of action. Determining that any punitive damages claims based on Kalick’s state claims were pre-empted and, therefore, that Kalick could not meet the $75,000 amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction, the District Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Kalick’s remaining state law claims. As a result, the District Court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction without prejudice to Kalick’s right to litigate the contract and fraud claims in state court.Upon appeal by Kalick, the Third Circuit Court upheld the trial court’s order. First, the appeals court held that federal question jurisdiction was lacking because Section 250.9 does not create a private right of action, noting that every other circuit addressing this issue had ruled in the same manner. Next, the appeals court agreed that diversity jurisdiction was also lacking because the plaintiff had failed to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he could recover an amount exceeding $75,000 on his contract and fraud claims. Finally, the appeals court upheld the trial court’s refusal to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s state law claims, holding that the plaintiff had failed to prove the “exceptional circumstances” necessary for the exercise of such jurisdiction.Case Kalick v. Northwest Airlines Corp. (3d Cir. (N.J.) No. 09-3608, Mar. 29, 2010)Full opinion available here>>.

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