US Airways Bag Fee Class Suit Cleared for Takeoff

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By Perry Cooper

A US Airways passenger’s proposed class action to recover bag fees for lost luggage may proceed, the Ninth Circuit held May 3 ( Hickcox-Huffman v. US Airways Inc. , 2017 BL 147001, 9th Cir., No. 11-16305, 5/3/17 ).

Her suit to recover the $15 fee under state contract law isn’t preempted by the federal Airline Deregulation Act, Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

US Airways, now a subsidiary of American Airlines Group Inc., charged Hayley Hickcox-Huffman $15 to check her bag. When she landed, it didn’t show up on the baggage carousel and was delivered to her the next day.

The district court dismissed her suit for breach of contract as preempted by federal law.

The Airline Deregulation Act prevents states from enacting or enforcing any law related to a price, route or service of an air carrier. But the law specifies that remedies it provides are “additional to any other remedies provided by law,” the Ninth Circuit said.

“Her breach of contract claim is not preempted, and her pleading, if true, establishes a breach of contract,” the court concluded.

Judges Marsha S. Berzon and Roger T. Benitez, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, joined the opinion.

Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis LLP; and the Law Office of William M. Aron in Santa Barbara, Calif., represented the passenger.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP represented US Airways.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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