Saturday, December 7, 2013

Airline Defense in Supreme Court Case – We Have No Requirement to be Fair and Reasonable

Another Case of Federal Regulatory Law Protecting the Regulated

The Supreme Court of the United States rarely has time to consider the appeals of death row inmates, appeals based on inadequate counsel, on prosecutorial misconduct, on the discovery of new evidence and the like.  After all, it’s not as if lives are at stake.

But the Supreme Court has found time to determine if Northwest Airlines, now a part of Delta, was legally remiss in kicking Rabbi Ginsburg out of its frequent flier program.  It seems their unhappiness with the Rabbi was this.

Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg used to fly often enough on Northwest Airlines that he achieved Platinum Elite status, the highest level. But the airline revoked his membership in its frequent flier program in June 2008, saying he had abused it by making too many complaints and by booking himself on full flights in the hope of being bumped.

Now a reasonable person might question whether or not a person is able to book travel of full flights is not the fault of the airline, but anyone who has been exposed to air travel in the U. S. knows that the airlines take no responsibility for their booking systems anyway.  So the interesting part of the case is whether or not Rabbi Ginsberg’s claims have been pre-empted by Federal law.  The airline attorney says of course they have.

Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for the airline, said Rabbi Ginsberg “seeks to impose a duty of fair dealing and reasonableness” even though “the parties to the contract have essentially given one party absolute discretion.” That duty, he said, is a state policy pre-empted by the 1978 law.

Wow, the Rabbi seeks to require the airlines to deal fairly and reasonably.  What gall!  The amazing thing is not that the airlines do not think they have a duty of fair dealing and reasonableness, but that they are willing to admit that in court.  But of course having been granted virtual monopoly status over a vital service they can do anything they want to.  Any everyone expects the Supreme Court to ratify that right.

As for the rest of the population, everyone should take heed from the experiences of Rabbi Ginsberg.  No complaints people, you have no rights, you have nothing and if you don’t like it don’t fly. 

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