Class Action Suit Could Grow
The first lawsuit has surfaced
following news Southwest Airlines failed to comply with necessary
safety inspections... and it's a doozy.
Four Alabama passengers filed suit against the Dallas-based
low-cost carrier last Friday, saying the company broke its
agreement with travelers over a six-year period by transporting
them on planes that had not been checked per federal
The passengers are taking the airline to court based on language
in Southwest's own "Contract of Carriage," reports The Associated
Press. That statement reads, "All transportation is sold and all
carriage is performed subject to compliance with all applicable
laws and governmental regulations, including those of the US
Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration,
and the Transportation Security Administration, many of which are
not specified herein but are nonetheless binding on Carrier and all
Those flyers, represented by Birmingham attorney Lew Garrison,
say revelations earlier this year Southwest failed to comply with
FAA-mandated inspections of rudder assemblies, and fuselage
fatigue checks, on its older 737 Classic models prove the airline
didn't hold up its end of that bargain.
"Fortuitously, of course, nothing happened, everyone arrived
safely at their destinations," Garrison said. "But that doesn't
change the fact that Southwest did not comply with its
Garrison said the class-action suit primarily
asks for reimbursement for tickets on flights in that period...
adding hundreds of thousands of people who traveled on Southwest
aircraft from January 2002 through March 2008 could ultimately join
the lawsuit. The group also seeks punitive damages, saying
Southwest behaved negligently in not grounding aircraft that had
not been inspected.
As ANN reported, federal
regulators said in March the low-cost airline flew almost 60,000
flights in 2006 and 2007 on 46 aircraft that had missed inspections
-- and continued flying another 1,451 flights in March 2007, even
after the carrier realized what it said was an honest mistake.
Southwest maintains FAA inspectors tasked with overseeing the
airline's maintenance practices gave their OK for the airline to
A spokesperson for Southwest said the airline does not comment
on pending litigation.