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Thompson Coburn files U.S. Supreme Court brief for international airline group

August 6, 2013

On July 31, Thompson Coburn filed an amicus brief on behalf of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting reversal of a Ninth Circuit decision holding that an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claim was not preempted under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.

The case, Northwest, Inc., v. Ginsberg, centers on the question of whether airline passengers removed from “frequent flier” loyalty programs have a right under state law to sue airlines for the alleged violation of promises that they could continue to enjoy the benefits of the program.

IATA’s brief highlights the international implications of the Ninth Circuit’s decision. IATA argues that the decision compromises the federal government’s ability to speak with “one voice” in matters of foreign commerce and creates impermissible conflicts with the federal government’s policies and obligations in the international sphere. 

“If not reversed, the Ninth Circuit’s decision will establish a dangerous precedent for the international air transportation system and the United States’ ability to participate meaningfully in the continuing evolution of that system,” the IATA writes in the brief.

Warren Dean and Katie Kraft constructed the arguments, with assistance from Jonathan Benner, and prepared the brief on IATA’s behalf.

Founded in 1945, IATA consists of 240 member airlines from 118 countries representing 84 percent of the world’s total air traffic. IATA serves the airline industry by advocating the interests of airlines across the globe, developing global commercial standards for the airline industry, and assisting airlines in operating safely, securely, efficiently and economically.