Airlines Exposed to New Liability

Who is responsible when a steamer trunk falls from an airline's overhead cargo bin onto your noggin, or if a flight attendant douses you with 130-degree coffee? It used to be that airlines could expect the courts to give them a break because of the wording of the Airline Deregulation Act, but now that seems to be changing. A ruling by the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in November 1998 may signal a shift in how the courts will deal with personal injury claims brought against the airlines. Have the Justices opened Pandora's box with this ruling, and subjected carriers to a costly flood of nuisance lawsuits? AVweb's aviation law expert Phil Kolczynski takes a look at the ruling and its possible ramifications.

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