The Birmingham News reported that a Huntsville, Alabama man sued American Airlines over travel delays. The article states that approximately 2,400 passengers were stranded due to bad weather. As a result, it took James Harper 28 hours to travel from Cancun, Mexico to Huntsville. He had to endure horrendous smells from the toilet, no food or beverage for an extended period, and seven hours on an airplane in New Orleans.
Now, I’m not familiar with the merits of the case, but it got me to thinking about what Nick Saban’s reaction would be to this lawsuit. Can you imagine? I can see the dialogue now:
Passenger – "Coach, it smells bad in here, and it’s hot. Can’t we have some water?"
Saban – "Water? You want water? Drink from the toilet."
Passenger – "But, coach. the water’s dirty. I can’t drink that. We’ve been on this plane for seven hours."
Saban – "Seven hours? That’s nothing. I’m going to make you sleep on here if you don’t quit whining. Do you want to get home? You must have focus. It’s a process. Have a positive attitude. Quit whining and toughen up!"
Or, can you imagine someone in the military complaining to his/her captain about the conditions in the field? Granted, these individuals volunteered to be in the military or play football, but come on.
I’m a trial attorney, and I have a hard time stomaching a case like this. In this age of tort reform and attorney bashing, do we really need to be suing companies when the damage is inconvenience and discomfort? Yes, maybe American Airlines should have been better prepared, but is a lawsuit the answer?
The lawsuit seeks $5,000,000.00 in damages for 2,400 people. Assuming the attorney fees equal 1/3 of the recovery, that would leave approximately $1,388.00 per person. That figure assumes no expenses for the litigation which would be a poor assumption because litigation has become even more expensive.
So, who will benefit from this lawsuit? I’ll leave that to your imagination (not that it requires any). Maybe this is why trial attorneys are constantly bashed in the public eye and why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s marketing against trial attorneys is so successful (See www.FacesofLawsuitAbuse.com which I would gladly criticize, but I’m sure this lawsuit will make the site).