Recently, in a case acquiring national media attention, Rutherford & Christie attorneys David Rutherford and Jeremy Spiegel obtained a dismissal of plaintiff’s Complaint in its entirety where is was claimed that plaintiff, who has a life threatening allergy to peanuts and warned the airline of said allergy, was psychologically injured after it was observed that the airline served peanuts in another section of his flight from New York to Los Angeles notwithstanding the plaintiff’s prior warning.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York agreed that the plaintiff’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of civil rights were invalid as all tort claims related to the airlines’ improper “service” are preempted under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. In fact, the Court extended the interpretation of “service” to include dispensation of snacks and the communications with passengers regarding these amenities.
In any event, the Court agreed with our argument that plaintiff cannot maintain a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress under New York law as the conduct of the airline was not “extreme or outrageous.” Moreover, the Court agreed with our argument that no such cause of action exists in New York for emotional distress due to a breach of policy. Regardless, it was determined that no breach took place as the airline made clear that they can not guarantee a nut-free environment.