Airline not liable for passenger trip and fall

Keyes v. American Airlines, Inc. (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 2006).  After the New York to San Diego flight had landed, the passenger tripped and fell while “sidestepping” from her seat toward the aisle.  She sued the airline for negligence, seeking $5 million in damages.

The airline moved for summary judgment, which the court granted.  Under New York law, the passenger was required to offer sufficient evidence that a “dangerous” or “defective” condition had caused her injuries in order to prove that the airline had breached its duty of care to her.  The court held that the passenger had failed to meet this burden because she had not offered any evidence that the object that probably caused her fall, a seat mounting track, “was improperly designed, built, maintained, managed, controlled or repaired.”

The passenger probably lost most of her credibility, if not the case, at the pleading stage by making what the court called “inconsistent allegations” in her initial and amended complaints as to what caused her fall.

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