March 11, 2010
Don't Assume That Your $436k in Jewelry Is Up in That Overhead Bin
Posted by Alan Childress
Not a legal profession case, but eye-opening to those of us who travel a lot and hate to check luggage: you may THINK it is overhead when it is not...
The Court also released this notable unpublished decision: Malik v. Continental Airlines, Inc., No. 09-50444 (5th Cir. March 10, 2010) (Garza, Clement and Owen) (per curiam; unpublished): According to Malik's lost-luggage claim, she had $436K worth of jewelry and other valuables in a bag checked on a flight from Austin. According to a statement of facts in the district court record, the bag was originally one of Malik's carry-on items. She was unable to find bin space over her seat, so a flight attendant assisted her in putting the bag into a bin 13 rows in front of her seat. After she returned to her seat, a flight attendant decided that it needed to be stowed in the cargo hold. Because the bag had no external identification, someone in the stowage process opened it to ascertain its owner. The bag never arrived at Malik's final destination. The district court allowed her to recover only $800. Holding: Affirmed. "[C]arriers are allowed to limit their liability by contract if they give reasonable notice to passengers.... Here, Continental limited its liability for lost luggage to $2,800 [less exclusions for "heirlooms, irreplaceable items, and jewelry"]." The limit, minus the exclusions, yielded only $800 for Malik. The fact that the bag "was checked by airline personnel without her permission" was irrelevant, since "Continental ... reserved the right to check any passenger's bag." (Appeal from W.D. Texas Case No. 1:060cv-695; http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/09/09-50444.0.wpd.pdf.)
This blurb is courtesy of the Fifth Circuit Civil News, published by Bob McKnight.
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