Andrews v. United Airlines

24 F.3d 39 (9th Cir. 1994).

Plaintiff was a passenger in Defendant’s airline and was injured when a briefcase fell from the overhead compartment.  Plaintiff did not allege that one of Defendant’s agents had opened the overhead compartment.  Instead, he alleged that it was foreseeable that luggage could fall and Defendant did not take proper steps to prevent it.

Defendant presented uncontroverted evidence during summary judgment phase that all passengers were warned that luggage could have moved during flight and instructed the passengers to be careful while opening the overhead bins.  The district court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The issue facing the appellate court was whether the jury should have been given the opportunity to decide whether an airline has a duty to do more than warn passengers about the possibility of falling luggage.  The court responded in the affirmative.

The court noted that common carries must use the utmost care and vigilance of a very cautious person towards its passengers.  The court reasoned that an average juror who very likely has been an airline passenger is equipped to determine whether Defendant should have done more to warn the passengers regarding the danger of luggage falling from the overhead compartments.  Thus, it was not appropriate for the district court to grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Reversed and remanded.

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