Greg Palmer Wins Case For AA

11.27.06

Miami office

Greg Palmer – a partner with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell in Miami – recently won a defense verdict for American Airlines, Inc. in the Southern District Court of Florida.

Two American Airlines patrons – a husband and wife – brought suit against the company for an incident that took place on January 5, 2001. On that date, the plaintiffs boarded an aircraft on a flight from Miami to Cali, Columbia. A flight attendant served a cup of coffee to the husband who spilled it on his hands and in his lap, severely burning his abdomen and groin area. Immediately following the incident, the plaintiff told a different flight attendant that it was an accident and asked him to secure a doctor to examine his injuries upon arrival in Cali. The flight attendant agreed, but warned the plaintiff that the airline would not be responsible for any medical expenses. The plaintiff and his wife later filed suit against American Airlines to recoup medical expenses – and other damages, such as pain and suffering – as a result of the accident.

The lawsuit was brought under the Warsaw Convention, which is a complex framework governing incidents that occur on international flights. The Warsaw Convention holds air carriers strictly liable to up to roughly $140,000 in such cases. However, if the carrier proves that it used all “necessary measures” to avoid the damage in question, the plaintiff cannot recover over this amount.

Palmer argued that under the Warsaw Convention, if the damage caused to a passenger is a result of his own negligence, the airline may be exonerated from liability. He contended that in addition to spilling coffee on himself, the plaintiff admitted his own fault in the accident. Further, Palmer pointed out that the “necessary measures” standard means that the airline needed only to take reasonable precautions in relation to the risk – and the airline did act in a reasonable manner to prevent the accident.

The magistrate agreed with Palmer’s contentions and delivered a defense verdict. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida adopted the holding and published the opinion.

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Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell provides litigation and counseling services in a wide range of civil practice areas including products liability, commercial litigation, intellectual property, environmental, employment, insurance, professional liability, health care and administrative law. Offices are located in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Tallahassee and Birmingham, Alabama.

 
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