Injured passengers have filed suit against Spirit Airlines in connection with last month’s drunken melee on board a flight from Baltimore to LAX. The plaintiffs, represented by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, seek to hold Spirit Airlines responsible for the conduct of the unruly passengers who injured them because Spirit Airlines allegedly fueled the flap with copious amounts of alcohol and failed to protect them from injury.
Claims against ground-based barkeepers and others who over serve customers are permitted in some states. But such suits don’t work when the defendant is an airline. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 grants an airline immunity from any liability arising from the airline’s choices in connection with “routes, rates, or service.” “Service” includes drink service. That means that when a drunken passenger injures his fellow traveler, the airline who served the offending passenger cannot be held liable. Gee v. Southwest Airlines.
This case isn’t going anywhere.