Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Travel Law


Delta Air Lines passenger lands in custody

share this article

Hon. Thomas A. Dickerson  Feb 11, 2016

In this week’s article we examine once again what happens when an airline passenger refuses to comply with instructions of airline personnel. In Land v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., Civil Action No. 15-5240 (E.D. Pa. December 7, 2015) “A federal judge...tossed claims a Philadelphia lawyer brought against Delta Air Lines after he dodged an airline employee, boarded a plane and then refused to leave. U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney...granted Delta’s summary judgment motion (noting in his seven-page memorandum that) ‘He created this hullabaloo believing his ‘SkyMiles’ status allowed him to break rules applying to others’”. We have previously discussed unruly airline passengers in How airlines should react to “a bare reference to a bomb”, eturbonews.com (8/17/2015); Unruly airline passengers: Nuts over nuts & No flying pigs, please, eturbonews.com (12/24/2014); Unruly airline passengers: No Pet rats, please, eturbonews.com (4/10/2014).

Travel Law Update

Zika Virus Update

In McNeil & Tavernise, Zika Infection Transmitted by Sex Reported in Texas, nytimes.com (2/2/2016) it was noted that “A case of Zika virus infection transmitted by sex, rather than mosquito bite, was discovered in Texas on Tuesday, a development sure to complicate plans to contain a global epidemic”; Romero, Tears and Bewilderment in Brazilian City Facing Zika Crisis, nytimes.com (1/29/2016) it was noted that “So many distraught mothers stream into the infant ward clutching babies with abnormally small heads”; Admed, El Salvador’s Advice on Zika Virus: Don’t Have Babies, nytimes.com (1/25/2016) it was noted that “When in human history has an epidemic become so alarming that a nation feels compelled to urge its people not to have children for two years?”; The Editorial Board, Zika Virus Requires an Urgent Response, nytimes.com (1/28/2016); Steinmetz, Zika virus: 22 countries on the warning list, eturbonews.com (1/26/2016); MacCarthy & Montevago, Travel Companies Deal with Zika Outbreak, travelmarketreport.com (1/27/2016).

2016 Kidnap & Piracy Map Published

In 2016 Kidnap & Piracy Map released, eturbonews.com (2/3/2016) it was noted that “The map is accompanied by the Global Kidnap Review, a special report examining kidnap and ransom over 2015 and identifying themes for 2016. Together, the map and report provide a guide for organizations on the threats to their people and operations worldwide. Intensified civil conflicts in Africa, entrenched criminality in Latin America and the advance of Islamist militancy in spaces worldwide have contributed to ‘severe’ kidnap ratings for 11 countries, up from eight in 2015. A further 11 countries, including India, Egypt, Lebanon, Cameroon and Kenya moved from ‘medium’ to ‘high’-the latter four of these all face significant threats from Islamist militancy”.

Amtrak Crash In 2015

In Shaer, The Wreck of Amtrak 188, What caused the worst American rail disaster in decades? nytimes.com (1/26/2016) it was noted that “Had you been standing anywhere near the tracks, you would have heard Amtrak 188 before you saw it, in the hum of the rail bed and the metallic shiver of the electricity in the overhead catenary wires. And then you would have felt it, in the vibration of the earth: the combined weight of a 98-ton locomotive and seven 50-ton cars, carrying a total of 258 people, eight of them employees”; Fitzsimmons, Human Error Possible in Deadly ‘15 Amtrak Crash, Documents Suggest, nytimes.com (2/1/2016) it was noted that “Federal officials investigating an Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia last year left open the possibility on Monday that human error led to the crash as they released documents showing that no problems were found with the train or with the tracks and signals at the site of the accident. While the National Transportation Safety Board did not lay blame on the train’s engineer or identify a probable cause for the derailment, officials said they would release their full findings and possibly recommendations in the next few months”.

Timeshare Hard Sell

In Morgenson, The Timeshare Hard Sell Comes Roaring Back, nytimes.com (1/22/2016) it was noted that “After crashing in the financial collapse, timeshare sales are rising again and with them high-pressure sales practices...Perhaps acknowledging these problems, some in the industry have cautioned in recent months that regulators from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau could increase their oversight. New rules would affect all operators, including big players like Diamond, Interval Leisure Group, Marriott Vacations Worldwide and Wyndham Worldwide...Interviews with timeshare owners, lawyers and other specialists in the arena, moreover, suggest that Diamond’s sales practices can be especially forceful”.

Assaults In Sweden

In Steinmetz, Sweden security out of control: Storming occupied Stockholm train station, eturbonews.com (1/30/2016) it was noted that “In the wake of the sexual assaults allegedly perpetrated by men of ‘Arab origin’ in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve, the Swedish press revealed what certainly appeared to be a cover-up related to a wave of similar incidents that apparently occurred at a youth festival and concert in central Stockholm’s Kungstradgarden last August”.

Tour Boat Accident In Nicaragua

In Steinmetz, Tour boat accident in Nicaragua kills 13 tourists, eturbonews.com (1/25/2016) it was noted that “Thirteen people died on Saturday after a small tourist boat (the ‘Caribbean Queen’) sank amid strong winds...near Little Corn Island...There were 21 people rescued, 13 from Costa Rica, three from Nicaragua, two from Britain, two U.S. citizens and one Brazilian”.

Uber & Lyft Update

In Miller, Lyft Drivers Get $12 Million, More Job Security in Settlement, therecorder.com (1/27/2016) it was noted Lyft, Inc. has agreed to pay $12.25 million to settle a worker classification lawsuit in a deal that maintains its drivers’ status as independent contractors, a key aspect of the ride-hailing app’s business model”. See also: Nairobi’s taxi drivers turn to violence to halt Uber, eturbonews.com (2/2/2016); Furfano, Uber cuts rates in escalating NYC cab wars, nypot.com (1/28/2016); Santora & Surico, Uber Drivers in New York City Protest Fare Cuts, www.nytimes.com (2/1/2016); Olsonjan, Older Drivers Hit the Road for Uber and Lyft, nytimes.com (1/22/2016).

Hyatt Hotels Hacked

In Finkle & Rukmangadhan, Hyatt Hotels attacked with payment-card stealing malware, reuters.com (12/23/2015) it was noted that “Hyatt Hotels Corp said on Wednesday that the payment processing system was infected with credit-card-stealing malware in an attack discovered three weeks ago...Company spokeswoman...did not say if the attackers succeeded in stealing payment card numbers, how long its network was infected or how many of the chain’s 627 hotels were affected...Hyatt...is the fourth major hotel operator to warn of a breach since October. Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., last month disclosed attacks on payment processing systems. Donald Trump’s luxury hotel chain, Trump Hotels Collection, also confirmed the possibility of a data security incident”. See our article The Wyndham data breach case: Lessons to be learned in cybersecurity, eturnonews.com (9/16/2015).

EU Approves Tough New Data Rules

In Scott, Europe Approves Tough New Data Protection Rules, nytimes.com (12/15/2015) it was noted that “European officials approved long-awaited data protection regulations on Tuesday, the latest effort in the region to give people a greater say over how their digital information is collected and managed...They are intended to bolster European’s privacy rights, which are viewed by the bloc as on a par with freedom of expression...Among the new policies approved on Tuesday: Allowing national watchdogs to issue fines...if companies misuse people’s online data...Enshrining the so-called right to be forgotten into European law...Requiring companies to inform national regulators within three days of any reported data breach...Obliging anyone under 16 to obtain parental consent before using popular services like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, unless any national government lowers the age limit to 13. Extending the new rules to any company that has customers in the region, even if the company is based outside the European Union...’Europe’s approach to privacy is much stronger than in the United States’ said...a technology lawyer at Linklaters in London”.

Uber Accessibility In New York City

In Dwyerdec, Accessibility as Challenge in Age of Uber, nytimes.com (12/22/2015) it was noted that “Two years ago (Mayor Bloomberg) promised (after settling a 30 year old lawsuit seeking to make taxi cabs wheelchair accessible ) that by 2020, half of New York City’s yellow cabs would be accessible to people in wheelchairs and motorized scooters...Then along came Uber, and a slow-moving civil rights revolution ran into the big-bang moment of the ‘sharing economy’...So has the revolution in mobility possibilities for people in wheelchairs hit a wall in Uber? Not at all, argues Uber...Riders who need a wheelchair-accessible vehicle can use a special tab on the app to call for a car than can accommodate them, says...a spokesman for Uber. About 4,000 of the 34,000 cars in the Uber system are city-licensed cabs, and 400 of them can accommodate wheelchairs. In all, 4,000 trips a month are taken by people who call specifically for those accessible cabs (the spokesman said) and riders are picked up, on average, within five to seven minutes”.

Boeing Settles For $12 Million

In FAA: Boeing agrees to pay $12 million to settle enforcement cases, eturbonews.com (12/22/2015) it was noted that “Under the agreement (Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) pledged to implement and improve several certification processes to further enhance the airworthiness and continued compliance of all BCA products...The company also must make an immediate payment to the United States Treasury in the amount of $12 million and...follow through on its commitments. BCA’s obligations include: Improved Management Oversight and Accountability...Internal Auditing...Enhanced Supplier Management...Quality and Timeliness Regulatory Submission...First-Article Verification...Stampings and Other Verification Records Accuracy...Corrective Action Development, Implementation and Sustainment (and) Reporting Obligation”.

Royal Abductions In Iraq

In Al-Jawoshy & Gladstone, Qatari Safari Members, Including Royalty, Are Abducted in Iraq, nytimes.com (12/16/2015) it was noted that “Militants in the southern Iraq desert ambushed and abducted at least 26 hunters from a Qatari safari (which included) some members of senior Qatari royalty. Dozens of kidnappers, dressed in military uniforms and riding in at least 50 sport utility vehicles with machine-gun mounts, overwhelmed Iraqi sentries guarding the Qatari’s tent encampment in the Samawa desert near the border with Saudi Arabia…The governor said the kidnappers, whose...motives were unclear, ‘attacked the tents where the hunters stayed and insulted and beat the security forces accompanying them’ as they seized at least 26 members of the expedition and spirited them away before dawn”.

Facebook & Uber

In Isaac & Goel, Facebook and Uber Follow Asian Rivals in Plan to Enhance Messenger App, nytimes.com (12/16/2015) it was noted that “For years, Asia’s technology giants have been one step ahead of Western companies in how they treat messaging apps. Instead of the relatively simple programs that Americans use to send messages and photos to friends, popular Asian services like WeChat have become digital Swiss Army knives: People can use them to hail a car, shop for games, buy virtual stickers to send to friends and even shop for physical goods...Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has begun to emulate its Asian rivals, making its Messenger services=with 700 million users-more of an all-purpose platform...Facebook announced a partnership with Uber...that will for the first time allow users in the United states to summon a vehicle with the Messenger smartphone app. It is significant move for both companies, which are expanding aggressively beyond their core markets”.

Airbnb Overexposure

In Kendall, Woman Sues Airbnb Over Hidden Camera, law.com (12/15/2015) it was noted that “A traveler who likes to sleep naked is suing Airbnb Inc. After she found a hidden camera in her Irvine rental. Plaintiff...claims the camera allowed the property lessors to spy on her as she walked naked from the bedroom to the bathroom, and to eavesdrop on private conversations she had with her partner...(Plaintiff’s) lawyers say the discovery (of the camera) left her ‘deeply humiliated and angry’ and concerned that someone might post naked pictures of her on the Internet...Airbnb was in control of the leasing process, according to the complaint, and therefore had a duty to exercise reasonable case in order to avoid causing personal injury to (Plaintiff)...The lawsuit is another example of the legal challenges facing Airbnb and other sites that connect property owners and couch surfers”.

Landlords Want A Slice From Airbnb

In Kusisto, Rent Your Place on Airbnb? The Landlord Wants a Cut, wsj.com (12/15/2015) it was noted that “Three of the nation’s largest landlords have held discussions with Airbnb, Inc. About allowing apartment dwellers to market rooms through the company’s global network in exchange for a slice of the revenue...The moves hold the potential to expand Airbnb’s access to rental units across the country and further formalize a business that has grown from matchmaking service for couch-surfers into a real threat to established hotels. Airbnb’s service has long run afoul of many apartment companies’ contracts. A truce could allow a bigger portion of America’s housing stock to be used as hotel rooms, potentially adding thousands of new listings to Airbnb’s books by allowing tenant’s to openly use the site rather than handing over their keys on the sly...Airbnb, funded in 2008, now lists about 322,500 accommodations in the U.S., up 80% from a year earlier...It generated $340 million of revenue in the third quarter, on bookings of $2.2 billion, according to an investor presentation earlier this year reviewed by The Wall Street Journal”.

Another Day, Another Food Poisoning Lawsuit

In Greene, The Lawsuits Are Piling Up, but Chipotle Has Bigger Probes Than Litigation, The AM Law Litigation Daily (12/16/2015) it was noted that “Another day, another food poisoning lawsuit for Chipotle. The latest legal salvo against the ‘fast casual’ Mexican food chain comes in Boston, where it was hit with a suit on Wednesday...in connection with a norovirus outbreak that sickened 140 earlier this month. Chipotle also faced litigation in connection with a nine-state E. Coli outbreak this fall when 52 people fell ill, a salmonella outbreak in Minnesota in August that made at least 45 people sick, a norovirus outbreak in California in August with more than 200 victims and another E. Coli outbreak in July in Washington with five confirmed cases...’I can’t think of a restaurant chain... where they basically had five outbreaks in a five month period’ said Marler Clark name partner William Marler, who filed the Boston suit. ‘An individual case isn’t so alarming, but to have five outbreaks, boom, boom, boom, that’s pretty unusual’”. See our article Food and water-borne diseases contracted at hotels and restaurants, eturbonews.com (12/3/2015). See also LHO Indianapolis One Lessee, LLC v. Bowman, 40 N.E. 3d 1264 (Ind. App. 2015) (plaintiff “Bowman filed a Class Action Complaint alleging that she and ‘61 other others suffered personal injury and sustained economic loss as a result of consuming tainted food at the Downtown Marriott’”; motion seeking class certification denied).

Seat Swapping For A Price

In Survey: Airline passengers willing to swap seats for a price, eturbonews.com (12/15/2015) it was noted that “Of those surveyed, 55% indicated that would be moderately to extremely likely to be willing to pay another passenger to swap for a better seat on a flight of 3.5 hours or longer. Not surprisingly, on shorter flights, the likelihood to pay to swap for a better seat was lower...’The survey results suggest that air passengers may be able to solve some of the biggest complaints about air travel, including a limited inventory of comfortable seats, crowded flights, annoying passenger behavior and high airline costs’, said Brad Pursel, Founder and President of the travel startup Seateroo”.

Paris Hotels Suffering

In Paris hotels suffer after terrorist attacks, eturbonews.com (12/17/2015) it was noted that “This is the overall tourism trend in Paris: Families staying away. Visitors staying for a shorter time. Paris hotels are facing a tough challenge trying to attract visitors back to the capital following terrorist attacks in November. The latest assessment from a wholesale hotel room buyer, which fills 250,000 bed nights a year in Paris, shows bookings are down for this normally busy times. According to a recent study by ForwardKeys, which looks at flight data, bookings to Paris are 28% lower than at the same time last year. The leisure sector is the most affected”.

Travel Law Article: The Land Case

In the Land case, supra, Judge Kearney granted Delta Air Lines’ motion to dismiss Counts I and III of the Amended Complaint noting that “Plaintiff cannot state a claim for either false imprisonment or intentional infliction of emotional distress after two attempts. Counts I and III are dismissed with prejudice”.

Creating A “Hullabaloo”

As noted by Judge Kearney “Attorney Robert Land, acting pro se, alleges Delta Air Lines falsely imprisoned and intentionally or negligently inflicted emotional distress upon him because it did not allow him to run onto a plane after he ran late for his flight and then refused to leave the plane unless the police removed him. He claims Delta acted improperly after he ducked the Delta agent to walk onto the plane and then, after he wouldn’t leave, called the police who then arrested him. After granting him leave to amend, he still cannot plead false imprisonment or infliction of emotional distress. He alleges, without specificity, Delta inflicted emotional distress on him by identifying him to the police so he could be removed from the plane after he told it to do so. He created this hullabaloo believing his ‘Skymiles’ status allowed to break rules applying others. His plead claims on false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress lack merit”.

“Alleged Facts In Amended Complaint”

“(Plaintiff)(“Land”) bought a ticket to fly on Delta Air Lines (“Delta”) leaving Philadelphia and arriving in San Diego, California, with a layover in Atlanta, Georgia. On April 19, 2013, Delta’s flight from Philadelphia arrived late in Atlanta. When Land arrived at his gate for the San Diego flight, Delta left the door to the jet-way open with a gate agent. Land entered the jet-way without authority. When he was approximately thirty feet down the jet-way, a Delta employee stopped Land and told him it had closed the flight. Land showed his boarding pass and his Delta Skymiles American Express credit card. Delta instructed Land to get off the jet-way. Land responded he could board because passengers were still in line. Delta refused and Land alleges a Delta employee pushed him”.

“Feinted” To His Left

“Land then ‘feinted’ to his left and passed the Delta agent on the right, boarded the plane and took his empty designated seat. Another Delta employee approached Lad and told him to get off the plane. Land agreed to so if Delta would scan his ticket and let him back on the plane. Delta refused to change its policies at Attorney Land. It told Land to leave the plane immediately. Land reminded the Delta employee ‘of the business relationship between him and Delta (presumably based on his Skymiles status) and how good business practices would dictate he be treated with respect and accommodation’. Delta told Land to leave the plane or face arrest. Land told Delta he would leave only if the police or TSA requested him to do so. Delta’s employee then left and summoned the City of Atlanta police”.

The Atlanta Police Arrive

“Officer Turner of the Atlanta Police Department then entered the aircraft. Once Land saw the officer, he left the plane and spoke to the police in front of Delta in the jet-way. The police asked Delta, ‘Prosecute?’ to which Delta responded, ‘Yes’. The police officer immediately spun him around and handcuffed him behind his back, led him down the jet-way’s portable steps to the tarmac and threw him in the backseat of a police vehicle. Land remained handcuffed for an hour or more while the police completed paperwork. The police took Land to a holding cell in the airport where Land remained for another hour.

Booked And Charged

“The police then transported Land to a city prison handcuffed behind the back, but not otherwise restrained. The police booked, photographed and fingerprinted Land. The police charged him with disorderly conduct with violence and failure to obey signage. Land posted bail...Land remained in custody for eleven (11) hours. The police eventually dismissed all criminal charges. Land retrieved his belongings. Delta cancelled his connecting flights from Atlanta to San Diego and from Los Angeles to Philadelphia because he breached security. Delta offered to sell him a one-way ticket to San Diego for $550.00".

No False Imprisonment

“The elements of false arrest/false imprisonment are: (1) the detention of another person (2) this unlawful...Land does not allege Delta detained him; instead he alleges Delta identified him to the Atlanta Police, and said ‘yes’ when the officer asked whether to prosecute...Land does not allege his detention is unlawful...does not challenge the validity of his arrest nor does he claim the arrest is not authorized by law...Land does not plead any conduct by Delta apart from calling the police and, when asked a one-word question, saying ‘yes’...Land does not plead facts to support a claim Delta provided false information to the police resulting in his arrest...Delta’s motion to dismiss Land’s claim for false imprisonment is granted”.

No Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress

“‘[A] person who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe or emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress’...Land does not plead conduct by Delta going ‘beyond all bounds of decency and are regarded as utterly intolerable in a civilized community’. Land alleges Delta did not let him board an aircraft; asked him to leave when he boarded the aircraft after feigning and going around Delta’s agent; and upon his refusal to leave without police involvement, contacted the Atlanta police to remove him. We wonder what other remedy Delta hay have other than ‘bend’ its own policies and possible FAA guidelines...Delta’s motion to dismiss Land’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is granted”.

No Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress

“This cause of action ‘is restricted to four factual scenarios: (1) situations where the defendant had a contractual or fiduciary duty toward the plaintiff; (2) the plaintiff was subjected to a physical impact; (3) the plaintiff was in a zone of danger, thereby reasonably experiencing a fear of impending physical danger or (4) the plaintiff observed a tortious injury to a close relative...None of these theories are plead here”.

Justice Dickerson has been writing about travel law for 39 years including his annually updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2016) and Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2016), and over 400 legal articles many of which are available at nycourts.gov/courts/9jd/taxcertatd.shtml. Justice Dickerson is also the author of Class Actions: The Law of 50 States, Law Journal Press (2016). For additional travel law news and developments, especially in the member states of the EU, see IFTTA.org.

This article may not be reproduced without the permission of Thomas A. Dickerson.

Delta Air Lines passenger lands in custody
Hon. Thomas A. Dickerson



Premium Partners