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Tag Archives: Million Miler

Ok Ok I know this is old news but I thought I would go over it anyways. Back in July George Lagen on behalf of a class filed suit against United Airlines alleging devaluation and removal of lifetime benefits for flying one million miles.

Before we get into the lawsuit where it stands, allow me to summarize the US Legal system for those of you who do not know. The US legal system works on the basis of notice and response. One party notices the other party and they have the opportunity to respond. Lagen notified United that he sued United by serving the complaint.

At the point where the complaint is served a respondent (a person is only a defendant in a criminal trial) under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) has two options respond to the complaint and or file a motion to dismiss within 30 days. United filled a motion under FRCP 12(b)1 and 12(b).

A 12(b)1 motion alleges that the Plaintiff lacked standing to sue United; IE the plaintiff can not show an “injury” therefore he could not sue. The court rejected this argument.

12(b)6 states that a suit can be dismissed for “failing to show a claim upon which relief can be granted.” This motion to dismiss address claims that fall outside of the ability of a court to grant relief. A good example of this is suing the government. Generally but not always, the government is immune from suit. So a court would use 12(b)6 to dismiss a claim against the government if it is immune from suit.

Just as important as what 12(b)6 is, is what it isn’t. 12(b)6 is not a merits inquiry. The court when ruling on a 12(b)6 motion does not look at the merits of the claim the Plaintiff has stated. The judge only asks one question, if everything the Plaintiff said is true can relief be granted? Here the answer was yes. Mr. Lagen has a claim that he can pursue against United Airlines.

What happens now. Well the court has ordered a status conference which means the parties show up to court to see what the parties want to do. Assuming there is no settlement before then the judge will set a date by which United has to provide an answer to the complaint, and the suit will move forward.

United has the option of asking for an interlocutory appeal of the judges ruling. The judges ruling wasn’t that controversial to justify an immediate appeal, so I don’t think that is going to happen.  I suspect that assertions to the contrary, after class certification the case will settle. The Judge implied in his ruling there was little merit to the Plaintiff’s claim so a settlement seems in order.

Whatever happens with the glacial pace of lawsuits, this one will be kicking around for sometime to come.

I have included the relevant text of the ruling below the cut.

Happy Travels!


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