Passengers on flights are not exempt from harm, but it is not always apparent when and where their claims must be brought when their injuries are caused by another party’s intentional or negligent behavior. This was illustrated in a recent decision by a Massachusetts district court, which upheld the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims due to the plaintiff’s failure to file an action within the time limits set forth by the Montreal Convention, which governs the criteria for pursuing specific claims against air carriers. If you were hurt on a flight, it’s a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury lawyer about what steps you might be able to take to preserve your rights.
Facts Concerning the Plaintiff’s Injuries
According to reports, the plaintiff, a Massachusetts citizen, boarded a plane operated by the defendant airline. The airplane took off from Boston and arrived in London the next day. A flight attendant accused the plaintiff of stealing bags during the voyage. As a result, his possessions were inspected without his knowledge, and he was kept on the plane after it landed and in the London airport until it was proven that he did not steal the missing bags.
The plaintiff allegedly filed a complaint against the defendant in a Massachusetts court three years later, which the defendant allegedly moved to the district court. The defendant subsequently filed a request to dismiss, claiming that the plaintiff’s claims were prohibited by the applicable statute of limitations since they were controlled only by the Montreal Convention. The district court granted the request after agreeing with the defendant’s reasoning. The plaintiff then filed an appeal.
The Montreal Convention and Continuing Torts
The Montreal Convention, which governs liability claims against foreign airlines like the defendant, is a convention that the United States has signed. As a result, if a claim is covered by the Montreal Convention, the treaty is the only way to seek redress and preempts all local claims for damages, even if they do not fit the Montreal Convention’s standards for imposing liability.
The Montreal Convention specifies that an airline will be held strictly accountable for an injury caused by an accident that occurred on the aircraft or while arriving or disembarking. An event must occur as a result of an unplanned occurrence to be termed an accident, and liability will only be imposed for injuries caused by unintentional occurrences, as personal injuries that do not occur as a result of an accident are not covered. Furthermore, under the Montreal Convention, a plaintiff seeking damages must bring a claim within two years of the date of harm.
Both parties agreed that the accident that occurred in this case constituted the plaintiff’s false imprisonment, which is a continuing tort under Massachusetts law. The plaintiff, on the other hand, maintained that because the tort began in one location and finished in another, it allowed for two independent causes of action, and that the harm he suffered after disembarking from the plane was not covered by the Montreal Convention. The court dismissed this argument, finding that it lacked legal support, and upheld the trial court’s decision.
Speak with a Competent Cape Cod Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured before, during, or after a flight, it’s a good idea to talk to an attorney about what kinds of claims you might be able to make. The competent lawyers of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, will assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of your options for seeking damages. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 888-262-6664 to set up a meeting.