Question Of Possible Causes Still Undetermined
A federal appeals court has handed
American Airlines, Continental Airlines and other carriers a
courtroom victory. A federal appeals panel in San Francisco, CA,
upheld a lower court's dismissal of passenger claims that airlines
failed to adequately warn them about the risk of blood clots.
Bloomberg reports the appeals court also agreed any airline's
duty under state law to warn passengers about the risk of
developing blood clots is preempted by the Federal Aviation Act of
1958. But, the issue of whether lack of legroom is the cause -- and
if airlines and seatmakers should be held accountable -- is still
up in the air.
The three-judge appeals panel also ordered a lower-court judge
to reconsider related claims that the airlines' planes provide
inadequate legroom, causing the clots. In addition, it sent back to
the lower court for further "factual development" the question of
whether seating configurations are unsafe.
Clem Trischler, of Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon in
Pittsburgh, a lawyer for the airlines, says the panel wants the
lower court to examine the issue of whether having to remove seats
would have a negative economic impact on the airlines.
"Once we make a factual record, I'm certain we'll be able to
make that showing," he told
The airlines contend that reconfiguring seating would require a
decrease in the number of passengers an airplane could carry, which
would mean higher fares and an indirect regulation of ticket prices
not allowed under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
Airline passengers filed separate suits against airlines
including Continental, American and El Al Israel Airlines. In
addition, the passengers file suits against Boeing, the world's
second-largest maker of commercial planes, and seatmaker Weber
Those defendants previously won their cases, based on arguments
in court papers.