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SWA Lawsuit

Old 04-16-2008, 10:42 PM
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....getting rich the American way. Just sue someone.
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Old 04-17-2008, 01:52 AM
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Theoretically next thing is that a lawyer could sit on the ground with an aircraft radio and listen for a pilot that missed a vector or altitude and then sue, as the pilot was not operating the aircraft IAW FAA rules.

Better yet, they could simply demand the government produce all of the NASA reports from the last seven years and sue any airline/pilot that did anything wrong within the statute of limitations which I think is about 7 years. Think about how many self-reported incidents could be construed as negligent and reckless by a lawyer when a jury would be generally clueless about aviation.
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by vagabond View Post
Thanks, stinson, for the support. I usually don’t comment anymore on “legal” threads since almost all of them on APC consists of unproductive posts like “all lawyers are scum” or “all lawyers deserve to die,” but I’ll give my two cents to correct some misunderstandings.

First of all, let me say that lawyers are like pilots and doctors and engineers – there are good ones and there are bad ones. It takes only one bad apple to make the rest look bad. Unfortunately, there are lots of bad ones out there. I preside over certain lawyer discipline cases and see more than my fair share of lawyers gone bad. However, it would be inaccurate to say that the plaintiff lawyers in this SWA suit are scum. There has been no evidence that these lawyers went looking for potential plaintiffs, much like personal injury lawyers listen to police scanners for accidents and run out to the accident site with their business cards.

Class action lawsuits are complicated litigation procedural devices, with their own inherent pros and cons, and those filed in federal courts are all governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23 which states the following:

Rule 23. Class Actions
(a) Prerequisites.
One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all members only if:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable,
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class,
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
(b) Types of Class Actions.
A class action may be maintained if Rule 23(a) is satisfied and if:
(1) prosecuting separate actions by or against individual class members would create a risk of:
(A) inconsistent or varying adjudications with respect to individual class members that would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the party opposing the class; or
(B) adjudications with respect to individual class members that, as a practical matter, would be dispositive of the interests of the other members not parties to the individual adjudications or would substantially impair or impede their ability to protect their interests;
(2) the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole; or
(3) the court finds that the questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy. The matters pertinent to these findings include:
(A) the class members' interests in individually controlling the prosecution or defense of separate actions;
(B) the extent and nature of any litigation concerning the controversy already begun by or against class members;
(C) the desirability or undesirability of concentrating the litigation of the claims in the particular forum; and
(D) the likely difficulties in managing a class action.
In other words, lots of hoops to jump through before getting a case certified as a class action. It is true that in many cases, the lawyers get a large fee. That is one of the criticisms of class action suits. Members of the suit end up with small, paltry “awards.”

Now I haven’t seen the SWA suit and everything I know about it comes from the media (and we know how they are sometimes in accuracy and slant). It appears that the passengers are alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligent and reckless operation of an aircraft. These are all very common causes of action in a class action lawsuit. They are not claiming that they could have been harmed, but that SWA breached its contract (the “Contract of Carriage”) with them. The contract with passengers say that SWA will fly them to their destinations on aircraft that is in compliance with federal regulations. We now know that the FAA has looked into its maintenance and/or maintenance records and found them wanting.

I just scratched the surface on this topic, but I hope it helps in understanding the basics of a class action lawsuit. If anyone has a more specific question, please send me a PM. When I read that thread of the media quoting a couple of APC posters, I have become wary of getting into details.
Thanks for the thoughtful post Vagabond. Have you, off the top of your head, any knowledge of a class-action suit that was truly useful? My understanding of this is that most class-actions end up with the attorneys making most of the money, with the members of the class making very little - but that is my laymen knowledge and I would welcome being corrected. Also, the actions of Scruggs and Millberg Weiss DO taint the legal profession, at least in the class-action arena, for me - a couple of REALLY bad apples.

Yes, SWA did violate the "Contract of Carriage" perhaps, but the other poster who stated about altitude deviations also makes an excellent point - that is also a violation of the Contract of Carriage. At some point though, common sense should take over in my opinion. If you weren't damaged in any way, and you did in fact arrive at your destination unscathed...where are your economic damages?
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:07 AM
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Don't necessarily need to have economic damages caused by not making it to the destination
I was emotionally scarred by the realization that 3 years ago if I had been in group A I could have wound up in a seat next to a cracked fuselage and been ripped out of the plane like that Aloha FA.

And now I'm so scared to get on a plane that my company fired me because I just refuse to get on one, and I don't think it should matter that all I'm doing is cleaning the plane on the ground. SWA is so unsafe anything might happen and I have a constitutional right to work in a safe environment. So that's why I'm suing for 300 million. My lawyer wanted to sue for 1 billion, but I'm no idiot, why try for 1 when I have a right to 300.

Next I'm going to sue McDonalds. I heard their coffee was extremely hot once and the thought of having that hot coffee scald the family jewels has me so upset that now I can't even get breakfast to go there anymore, instead I have to go way out of my way to go though BK's drive-up. And that has made me late for my new job as a cashier at Wal-mart. And my manager has absolutely no sympathy for why I have to be late everyday.

So, I think I'll sue Wal-mart next for not accomodating my disability.

I have a right to work
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:12 AM
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I wonder how many people are going to sue American? I'm guessing their Contract of Carriage has a similar statement.
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:27 AM
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Not trying to defend the people or the lawyers involved in this litigation but the folks at SWA screwed up big time. After the fine from the FAA and some litigation, bet this kind of thing doesn't happen again. Well, at least for a couple of years.
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Old 04-17-2008, 12:23 PM
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Highly insightful, Boiler. Please consider contributing more often.
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:42 PM
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Personally, in a situation like this, I feel the people shouldn't be the ones suing; rather, it should be the government. The FAA has already fined SWA, but a judgement "for the people" could be used to make sure this doesn't happen again ... at SWA or anywheres else.

These people don't deserve any money. Since they weren't damaged, the worst I could see is that they get a free ticket since the first one was considered breached.

What scares me is, a jury is going to hammer SWA if this actually gets to court. And it will set a precident (spelling?) for future cases against all airlines.

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Old 04-18-2008, 08:12 AM
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I want a class action against all litigation attorneys for the stress/annoyance they put in everyone’s life!! Who’s onboard????
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:17 AM
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Count me in, but we'll have to have fools* for attorneys

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