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Baumeister v. Deutsche Lufthansa, AG

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

February 2, 2016

HANS-PETER BAUMEISTER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DEUTSCHE LUFTHANSA, AG, Defendant-Appellee. JAMES VARSAMIS & LAUREN MITCHELL VARSAMIS, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
IBERIA, LÍNEAS AÉ REAS DE ESPAÑA, S.A. OPERADORA, SOCIEDAD UNIPERSONAL, Defendant-Appellee

Argued November 10, 2015.

Page 964

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Nos. 11 C 780, 11 C 775 -- Thomas M. Durkin, Judge, Sharon Johnson Coleman, Judge.

For HANS-PETER BAUMEISTER, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant (14-2633): Joseph Henry Bates III, Attorney, John Charles Williams, Attorney, Carney Bates & Pulliam, Pllc, Little Rock, AR; Jennifer W. Sprengel, Attorney, Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Defendant - Appellee (14-2633): Brent Robert Austin, Attorney, Eimer Stahl LLP, Chicago, IL; Anthony U. Battista, Attorney, Condon & Forsyth LLP, New York, NY; Christopher R. Christensen, Attorney, Condon & Forsyth LLP, New York, NY.

For James Varsamis, Lauren M. Varsamis, Plaintiff - Appellants (14-2414): Joseph Henry Bates III, Attorney, John Charles Williams, Attorney, Carney Bates & Pulliam, Pllc, Little Rock, AR; Jennifer W. Sprengel, Attorney, Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP, Chicago, IL.

For Iberia, Lineas Aereas DE Espana, Sociedad Unipersonal: Defendant - Appellee (14-2414): Brent Robert Austin, Attorney, Eimer Stahl LLP, Chicago, IL; Anthony U. Battista, Attorney, Condon & Forsyth LLP, New York, NY; Christopher R. Christensen, Attorney, Condon & Forsyth LLP, New York, NY.

Before POSNER, EASTERBROOK, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 965

Posner, Circuit Judge.

It is not uncommon for the airline that sells the tickets for an international flight to arrange for another airline to provide service over part of the route. Sometimes that other airline--the bridge carrier, we'll call it--experiences delay in its segment of the flight, and if substantial the delay may entitle the passengers to damages. The question presented by these two appeals is in what circumstances the bridge carrier is liable for those damages, and in what circumstances the originating carrier, which sold the tickets, is liable. In both cases the plaintiffs sued on behalf of a class, but the suits were dismissed at the summary judgment stage before any classes were certified.

In the first case we discuss, plaintiff Baumeister had bought a ticket from Lufthansa for a pair of flights: from Stuttgart, his place of origin, to Munich, and then from Munich to San Francisco, his destination. The first flight was, as indicated on his itinerary, to be flown not by Lufthansa but by a regional German airline (since defunct) named Augsburg Airways. But that flight, the first leg of Baumeister's journey, was cancelled, and though Lufthansa arranged substitute air transportation for Baumeister from Stuttgart to San Francisco he arrived more than 17 hours after he was originally scheduled to arrive.

A regulation of the European Union called EU 261 (officially " Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004," unofficially the " Flight Delay Compensation Regulation," Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_Delay_Compensation_Regulation (visited January 31, 2016)) specifies damages for certain cancelled or delayed flights into and out of the European Union. The regulation is enforced by administrative or judicial proceedings in nations that belong to the European Union. Volodarskiy v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 784 F.3d 349, 352-57 (7th Cir. 2015). Baumeister tried that approach but failed, as we'll see, and so brought suit in a federal district court instead. Lufthansa's contract with its passengers--its General Conditions of ...


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