Passenger state law claims preempted by Warsaw Convention

Mbaba v. Societe Air France, 457 F.3d 496 (5th Cir. (Tex.) July 25, 2006).  At a layover in Paris, the airline offloaded the passenger’s bags and charged him over $4,000 in excess baggage fees.  The passenger alleged the usual state law causes of action — breach of contract, deceptive trade practices and fraud.

The court held that the Warsaw Convention, as amended by Montreal Protocol No. 4, preempted the passenger’s claims.  The court relied primarily on Article 24, which “specifically preempts claims resulting from the carriage of baggage ‘however founded.'”  The events at issue had taken place in 2002, before the Montreal Convention had gone into effect (in November 2003).  But it is very likely that a court would rule in the same manner under the new treaty, which did not restrict the scope of state law preemption.

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