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Jonathan Stern Mentioned in an Article Detailing Elassaad v. Independence Air Inc.

On September 22, 2009 by Schnader in Appellate

Jonathan Stern, counsel resident in the Firm’s Washington, DC office, was mentioned an article titled “Federal Law Bars Passenger’s Fall Case, Airline Tells 3rd Cir.,” published in the September 22 issue of Aviation Litigation Reporter.

In 2004, Joseph Elassaad, who relied on crutches to walk, fell down a plane’s stairway as he left an aircraft in Philadelphia. Mr. Elassaad did not ask for, and was not offered, assistance in deplaning. He said he would have accepted an offer of help had he known a wheelchair and a ramp were available to take him off the airplane. The airline, Independence Air, moved for summary judgment, arguing that federal law does not require a carrier to supply information about the availability of a wheelchair if the passenger does not use one. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania agreed with the airline.

In his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Mr. Elassaad argued that there is no direct conflict between the application of state common-law standards of care and any federal safety regulation. Independence Air countered that the regulations implementing the Air Carrier Access Act require airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities only when requested, an offer of assistance is made and accepted, or when a person uses a wheelchair. The carrier said that requiring airlines to offer assistance to all disabled persons is inconsistent with the objectives of the regulations, which include not having all persons with a disability asked whether they wish assistance. Mr. Stern is representing Independence Air in this case (Elassaad v. Independence Air Inc., No. 08-3878, 3d Cir. Aug. 26, 2009).