Court in Florida Airline Case: Passengers Can Sue for Personal Injury Under State Law – Jiminez-Ruiz v. Spirit Airlines, Inc.

In a recent personal injury case out of Puerto Rico, the federal court there ruled that the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) does not preempt a passenger injured due to an airline’s negligence from suing the airline under applicable state law.

The allegations at issue in Jiminez-Ruiz v. Spirit Airlines, Inc. concern injuries sustained by Plaintiff Jaime Jimenez-Ruiz while a passenger aboard a Spirit Airlines flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Puerto Rico. Plaintiff, a Puerto Rico resident, was injured when he slipped and fell on the second to last step of a mobile ramp while deplaning after the plane landed. He filed suit, alleging that Spirit negligently failed to: (1) dry the steps of the mobile ramp; (2) apply anti-slip tape to the steps; (3) illuminate the area; and (4) warn passengers about the ramp’s dangerous conditions. Plaintiff sought monetary damages for his injuries.

Spirit asked the District Court for the District of Puerto Rico to dismiss the action, asserting that Jiminez-Ruiz’s claims – brought under Puerto Rico’s general negligence statute – are preempted by the ADA. Enacted in 1978, the ADA removed government control over fares, routes and market entry from commercial aviation. It also includes a pre-emption clause, which prohibits a state from enacting or enforcing “a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier.”

According to the court, the statute does not prohibit Plaintiff from bringing the negligence claims against Spirit. Although the airline argued that the claims pertain to a “service” provided by Spirit, the court agreed with an earlier ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which that court found that “Congress did not intend to preempt passengers’ run-of-the-mill personal injury claims,” such as Plaintiff’s claims under the Puerto Rico negligence statute, in passing the ADA. Accordingly, the court denied Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the claims.

The legal term “negligence” is the most common theory of recovery for people injured in any type of accident, including car accidents, aviation accidents and motorcycle accidents as well as incidents of medical malpractice.

If you are the victim of another party’s negligence, you need the best representation you can get to protect your interests. The South Florida personal injury attorneys at Anidjar & Levine have vast experience bringing negligence claims on behalf of clients injured in a variety of different situations. We are responsible and hardworking attorneys who help guide our clients through potential negligence cause of actions and consider all of the available legal remedies.

If you were injured in an accident due to another person’s negligent behavior, call the accident and negligence attorneys at Anidjar & Levine for a free consultation. Based in Ft. Lauderdale, we serve clients throughout South Florida, including in Hollywood, Hialeah, Pompano Beach and Coral Springs. Our lawyers can speak with you about whether you might be entitled to compensation for your injury. You can reach our Florida offices at 800-747-3733 or submit an on-line form to contact us today.

Related blog posts:

Injured on Another Person’s Property? Liability May Depend on the Fine Print – Marler v. U-Store-It Mini Warehouse Co.

Florida Personal Injury Liability for Unknown Dangerous Conditions at a Place of Business – Fetterman and Associates, PA v. Friedrich

Waivers of Liability in Florida Negligence Cases – Hinley v. Florida Motorcycle Training, Inc.