In July 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
released a ruling in the case of Campbell v. Air Jamaica
Ltd. This decision confirmed that a passenger can only
recover expenses arising from delay after being "bumped"
from a scheduled international flight.
Mr. Campbell, despite being checked-in and issued a boarding
pass, was bumped from his flight on to a flight departing the next
day. In addition, he was charged a $150 change fee. He
sued the airline for damages stemming from the bumping, which also
allegedly contributed to him suffering a heart attack. Mr.
Campbell claimed that as a result of his bumping and refusal of
hotel accommodations, he was forced to sleep outside the terminal
building. Because of adverse weather, he became ill and later
suffered a heart attack.
The Montreal Convention is an international treaty that
governs air carriers' legal liability to passengers travelling
on most international flights. Article 19 of the Convention
provides for limited recovery of economic damages caused by flight
delay, but not for emotional loss or physical injury.
Therefore, the Court of Appeal awarded Mr. Campbell $150 in
compensation for the change fee he paid, but found the balance of
his claims were unrecoverable under this provision.
Mr. Campbell also sought recovery under Article 17 of the
Montreal Convention, which provides for recovery of
damages resulting from physical injury or death of a passenger were
caused by an "accident". An accident has been
defined in case law as an unusual or unexpected event or happening
that is external to the passenger.
When considering the practice of bumping, the Court of Appeal
ruled that this practice does not amount to an Article 17 accident.
The Court noted that while bumping may be unpleasant, it is
widely practiced, widely known, and there is nothing accidental
This decision reinforces the parameters of recovery under the
Montreal Convention and the limits of recovery for an
"accident" and "delay" thereunder.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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