Can an airline be subject to negligence liability for denying boarding to a customer? Although it did not fully address this question, a recent decision from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Pipino v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., assures that we will get more discussion of the issue.
The plaintiff in this case was a ticketed passenger for a flight from New York to Tampa on Delta Airlines, the defendant in this case. The plaintiff alleges that an agent for the airline denied her the privilege of boarding because the agent believed she was intoxicated. The plaintiff, however, alleges that she was suffering from a panic attack and that the airline’s refusal to let her board the plane and failure to obtain medical attention for her caused both emotional and psychological harm. Following this incident, the plaintiff brought suit against Delta to redress these injuries. The airline moved to dismiss, arguing that venue in the Southern District of Florida was improper and that the plaintiff’s claims were otherwise preempted under federal law. The district court, however, found both arguments unavailing and denied the airline’s motion to dismiss.