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El-Menshawy v. Egypt Air

Decided: May 27, 1994.

FAROUK EL-MENSHAWY AND ENSHEREH EL-MENSHAWY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
EGYPT AIR AND ESMA TRAVEL CO., INC., DEFENDANTS.



Fisher, Jr.

Fisher

Civil Action

CLARKSON S. FISHER, JR., J.S.C.

I

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs allege that they held a confirmed reservation for a return flight from Cairo on Egypt Air on August 5, 1990. Defendant Egypt Air contends that plaintiffs were never issued a confirmed reservation for that date. Plaintiffs seek damages as a result of the expenses and inconvenience they incurred by reason of this alleged event.*fn1

Assuming plaintiffs' contentions to be true for purposes of this motion, Egypt Air nevertheless argues that the claim is preempted by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (the FAA), as amended by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (the ADA), and seeks the entry of summary judgment. Defendant Esma Travel Co., Inc. (the travel agent) also seeks summary judgment on preemption grounds.

The starting point for examining the application of federal preemption regarding the airline industry is Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U.S. , 112 S. Ct. 2031, 119 L. Ed. 2d 157 (1992). In assessing Morales ' impact on the common law claims of plaintiffs, the court is fortunate to have available the inciteful opinion in Vail v. Pan Am Corp., 260 N.J. Super. 292,

616 A.2d 523 (App. Div. 1992). There is little that this court need or should state with respect to the impact of Morales that was not already thoroughly examined by Judge Havey in Vail. This case merely presents the application of Morales and Vail to a different, but commonplace, factual situation.

II

POST-MORALES PREEMPTION

To briefly reiterate what the courts in Morales and Vail canvassed far more cogently, Congress preempted state statutory and common law when it enacted 49 U.S.C.A. app. § 1305(a)(1). "To maximize reliance on competitive market forces'," Vail, supra, 260 N.J. Super. at 296, the ADA prohibits the states from enforcing any law "relating to rates, routes, or services of any air carrier," 49 U.S.C.A. app. § 1305(a)(1). The Court in Morales emphasized that the phrase "relating to" was intended to "express a broad pre-emptive purpose." Morales, supra, 504 U.S. at , 112 S. Ct. at 2037, 119 L. Ed. 2d at 167. Thus, state actions "having a connection with or reference to airline 'rates, routes, or services' are preempted" by the ADA. Vail, supra, 260 N.J. Super. at 298 (quoting Morales, supra, 504 U.S. at , 112 S. Ct. at 2037, 119 L. Ed. 2d at 167.).*fn2

The "broad preemptive purpose" of these statutes is unmistakable. It only remains for the courts to sort out and determine, on a case-by-case approach, which of the myriad claims impacting on the airline industry are preempted. Morales held preempted state regulation of fare advertising. Vail held preempted a claim that an air carrier falsely advertised a ...


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