Montreal Convention two-year limit enforced in baggage case

Onyekuru v. Northwest Airlines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (N.D. Ill. Sept. 14, 2007).  In August 2006, the passenger filed a lawsuit against the airlines seeking damages for the alleged theft of items from the baggage she had checked for her June 2004 flight from Nigeria to Chicago.  The airlines moved for summary judgment on the grounds that her claim was time-barred by Article 35(1) of the Montreal Convention, which provides as follows:  “The right to damages shall be extinguished if an action is not brought within a period of two years, reckoned from the date of arrival at the destination, or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived, or from the date on which the carriage stopped.”

The court granted the airlines’ motion because the passenger had filed her lawsuit more than two years after her flight had arrived in Chicago.

Note:  The court described the two year limit imposed by Article 35 as a “statute of limitations” and noted that the passenger had failed to “offer any evidence to suggest that the limitations period was tolled.”  Because the two year limit is a condition precedent to suit, not a statute of limitation, it is not subject to tolling.

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