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Preemption re Aviation Act of State Tort Law In Certain Cases

By FindLaw Staff on May 12, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Elassaad v. Independence Air, Inc., No. 08-3878, the Third Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant on the ground of preemption in plaintiff's lawsuit against an airline company for injuries he sustained when he fell while disembarking from an airplane. 

The court reversed the district court's decision in concluding that the standard of care in plaintiff's negligence claim is not preempted by federal law in holding that, although Abdullah v. American Airlines, Inc. 181 F.3d 363 (3d Cir. 1999) stated that the Aviation Act preempts "the entire field of aviation safety" from state regulation, the "field of aviation safety" does not include a flight crew's oversight of the disembarkation of passengers once a plane has come to a complete stop at its destination.  The court also held that the Aviation Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder to not preempt state tort law with respect to such negligence claims, and that the federally enacted Air Carrier Access Act and its implementing regulations do not control the standard of care from the standpoint of airline safety.  

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