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Father's Claims Against Egyptian Air Preempted

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on October 14, 2013 3:58 PM

What's up with parents kidnapping their kids and taking them to different countries? Just last week, we gave a preview of an international custody dispute that the Supreme Court is hearing, while the First Circuit heard a case of its own. Though dealing with different issues, these cases highlight problems that no parent wants to worry about.

Factual Background

Colin Bower, a U.S. citizen met Mirvat El-Nady, an Egyptian citizen, in Egypt and married in 1998. The pair moved to London, had two kids, and moved to the United States. Ten years later, the couple divorced. Bower won sole custody, but shared physical custody with El-Nady, though she was prohibited from leaving Massachusetts with the children.

In August 2009, Bower dropped his children off at El-Nady's home, and shortly afterward, she drove to New York with the kids, and boarded an EgyptAir flight to Cairo, where she relocated with the children. Although she paid $10,000 cash for the tickets, the children had no entry visas, had no I-94 forms, and different last names than El-Nady, EgyptAir did not delay or prevent the trio from traveling.

Legal Analysis

Bower initiated tort actions against El-Nady and EgyptAir in state court, and EgyptAir removed the case to federal court. The district court, finding it had jurisdiction, dismissed Bower's claim because EgyptAir did not know of El-Nady's plans, and owed no duty of care to Bower or his children.

On appeal to the First Circuit, the court agreed with the jurisdictional analysis, but affirmed the dismissal of Bower's claims on different grounds. Rejecting the district court's analysis, the First Circuit found that Bower's claims were preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act ("ADA"), reports Courthouse News Service.

The ADA preempts states from enacting laws that involve an airlines price, route, or service. Finding that Bower's claims were sufficiently related to the service airlines provide, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of his claims against EgyptAir.

The court noted that in finding Bower's claims, it not only adopted a more expansive view of service, but was also upholding Congress' intent to prevent "patchwork state regulations" that would frustrate the purpose of the ADA in the first instance.

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