U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan in Dallas ruled Nov. 15 that passengers who were impacted last Feb. when American Airlines’ union pilots defied a court order to end a sickout may proceed with their claims in state court. “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged a claim against the Allied Pilots Ass’n for tortious interference with contract and civil conspiracy based on violations of the [temporary restraining order],” wrote Kaplan.
Kaplan’s ruling was on a pilots’ motion to dismiss a class action suit filed by passengers after a pilots’ sickout virtually shut down American. The suit seeks to recover economic damages for a class consisting of more than 300,000 ticketed passengers whose flights were delayed or cancelled as a result of the sickout. The sickout continued for some days after a U.S. District Judge ordered it stopped. The union is appealing a $ 45 million fine to compensate the company for losses
Passenger attorney John L. Malesovas, with Malesovas, Martin & Tekell in Waco, Texas, said he was pleased with the ruling. “The pilots essentially argued that they were immune from liability despite the admission of APA leaders that the sickout was staged for the sole purpose of gaining an economic advantage in their labor negotiations with American Airlines,” Malesovas said. “They knew that their illegal sickout was severely disrupting the lives of thousands of innocent passengers, and they brazenly ignored the orders of a federal district judge. Judge Kaplan wisely rejected pilots’ claims of immunity for their egregious conduct.” [BNA 11/18/99]