SW Legal studies in Business

Theft of Airline Passenger Baggage Limited by Convention
Description Appeals court confirmed that an airline passenger whose bag was stolen at security was limited to $400 recovery because the domestic flight that she was taking was going to connect her to a flight that was an international flight subject to the Warsaw Convention that controls airline liability.
Topic International Law
Key Words Airlines; Warsaw Convention; Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Dazo entered that San Jose, California, airport to board a flight to St. Louis. From there she would take a connecting flight to Toronto. She went through airport security, operated by Globe Airport Security Services, and placed her bag on the x-ray machine conveyor belt. By the time she went through the metal detector and went to retrieve her bag it had been stolen by an unknown person. She sued Globe and the airline for the $100,000 worth of jewelry that her bag contained. The trial court dismissed her suit; she appealed.

Affirmed. "The Warsaw Convention is an international treaty governing the liability of air carriers engaged in the international transportation of passengers and cargo. The Convention creates a presumption of air carrier liability but, in turn, substantially limits that liability. The Convention preempts state and federal claims falling inside its scope." Under Warsaw Convention definitions, Dazo was boarding an international flight, even though she was going on a domestic flight first to connect to an international flight. The theft of the bag occurred while it was under the control of security, which is considered to be "during the transportation by air" under the Convention. Her only cause of action is for the $400 liability per bag allowed by the Convention. If the actions of the security personnel had risen to the level of willful misconduct, then Dazo could avoid the Convention and sue under California common law, but she could not show such misconduct.

Citation Dazo v. Globe Airport Security Services, 268 F.3d 671 (9th Cir., 2001)

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