Nevada Federal Court Holds that the Air Carrier Access Act Does Not Establish a Private Cause of Action for Discrimination Based on Physical and/or Mental Impairments

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
Contact

Plaintiff, a passenger with a rare blood disorder that causes internal neurological anxiety requiring prescription medication, filed a pro se Complaint against Spirit Airlines alleging the airline mistreated her due to her medical condition. Per the Complaint, the airline refused to let plaintiff fly on her scheduled flight and forced her to book another flight the following evening on five separate occasions. The complaint alleges (1) discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); (2) discrimination on the basis of disability in violation of the Air Carrier Access Act (“ACAA”); and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”).

First, the Nevada federal judge denied Plaintiff’s claim for disability under the ADA, because the definition of “specified public transportation” for purposes of Title III of the ADA, does not include airlines. Second, the Court rejected plaintiff’s attempt to rely on Fifth and Eighth Circuit opinions which held that the ACAA creates an implied private cause of action. Instead, the Court found that it was bound by Ninth Circuit precedent which concluded that the ACAA prohibits air carriers from “discriminating against disabled individuals” who have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” but does not establish a private cause of action.

Lastly, the Court held that plaintiff’s IIED claim was preempted. In analyzing whether a particular state law claim is preempted, the Court determines whether the FAA has issued “pervasive regulations” in a particular area. Multiple courts have interpreted the ACAA to preempt certain state law claims such as negligence. The Court held that plaintiff’s IIED claim was not separate, but “inextricably intertwined” with the federal ACAA claim because it arose out of the same facts and, thus, the IIED state law claim was preempted by the ACAA federal regulation. Covino v. Spirit Airlines, Inc., 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177300 (D. Nev. Sept. 17, 2021)

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
Contact
more
less

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide
- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.