If You Get Sick While Traveling, You Don't Get To Sue Yahoo, US Air Or Sabre
from the just-saying... dept
Yes, we live in quite the litigation-happy world, but sometimes you see the type of lawsuits that just blow you away. Unfortunately, I have no link on this one, but Eric Goldman sent over the details on a recently decided case that’s too fantastic not to share. Apparently, a guy named Sol Jaffe (who appears to have a history of being on the losing end of pro se lawsuits) booked a round trip from Phoenix to London via Yahoo and Travelocity. While in London, Jaffe apparently caught a cold. He also received an email from Yahoo that suggested his return flight had been canceled. After calling Yahoo and US Air, he found out that was not the case. He flew from London to Philly, where he then found out that his reservation on the connecting flight back to Phoenix was, in fact, canceled — but US Air let him board anyway, fixing the problem.
The next day, Jaffe went to a doctor, who diagnosed him with a respiratory infection, a sinus infection and hypertension. Jaffee chose to blame and sue Yahoo, US Air and Sabre for the ailments — saying they caused him so much stress that it turned the cold into those infections and hypertension (there’s some confusion — by pretty much everyone other than Jaffe — why Sabre is included). Apparently, around the same time, he also (separately) sued Best Buy — claiming that its failure to return a computer to him in a timely manner caused hypertension and cardiac problems… but that’s a different case for a different time. A lower court quickly dismissed this case. Jaffe filed an amended lawsuit and eventually the court granted summary judgment to US Air and dismissed the complaints to Yahoo and Sabre — and dismissed the whole lawsuit, with prejudice, and (eventually) told Jaffe to pay the attorneys’ fees of the three companies.
Jaffe, apparently not seeing the legal writing on the wall, appealed (though, he screwed up the appeal quite a bit, as well). Defending himself, he tried to ask the court to take a more lenient view on him, since he wasn’t a lawyer or a big corporation, though the court pretty quickly slapped that concept down, pointing out that you get equal treatment under the law, pro se or as a big corporate lawyer. The court then pointed out that Jaffe failed in the most basic part of his case: showing that the defendants’ actions somehow caused his ailments. He did include letters from friends and doctors that he was sick, but never showed why that sickness came as a result of these actions. Furthermore, the court found it rather silly to think that the actions were in any way negligent:
He did not allege any facts that show there was an unreasonable risk of bodily harm. Moreover, without a factual predicate, it is unreasonable to claim that changing a flight reservation or requiring passengers to go to several different airline counters creates a risk of bodily harm, much less a high probability that substantial bodily harm will result.
The court then goes on to walk through all of the other claims that Jaffe made, pointing out how he failed to substantiate any of them — including, by the way, quoting Jaffe’s claim that an offer made by US Air earlier in the case had “all the merit of a rotten fritter.” Believe it or not, the court did not find that argument compelling. In the end, the appeals court concurred with the lower court, trashing every argument Jaffe made, and upholding the ruling that he owes the legal fees to the three companies he sued.
So… the next time you get sick on a flight, and part of the travel experience is just slightly less satisfactory than expected, you probably shouldn’t try suing everyone. You may just end up having to pay those companies’ attorneys’ fees, which is probably quite a bit more unpleasant than a rotten fritter.