, an airplane departing Saipan International Airport en route to Tinian crashed into trees just north of the Saipan runway after takeoff.
Plaintiff Weilian Lu was killed in the crash...The airline operating the flight, Star Marianas Air, Inc. (SMA), had a history of problems with its aircraft. In May 2012, another SMA plane crashed at the airport due to mechanical failure, injuring passengers. In July 2012 an SMA plane had to make an emergency landing because the engine was âchoking' in mid-air. Finally, three days before the crash in this case, an SMA plane had a flat tire just before takeoffâ.
Duty Of Reasonable Care
âPlaintiffs assert that...TDI (was) negligent for failing to âinspect SMA and its history involving plane crashes and other incidents' and failing âto provide safety instructions in Chinese to a group of Chinese tourists'...As an initial matter the law presumes that TDI owed the plaintiffs a duty to exercise reasonable care when it sold them plane tickets...Although SMA certainly owed the Plaintiffs a duty to exercise reasonable care in operating its aircraft, that duty does not displace TDI's duty of reasonable care with respect to booking the flight with SMA... To be clear, even if TDI is correct that it should not be held liable for failing to inspect SMA aircraft or provide foreign-language safety instructions, the appropriate question is not whether TDI had a duty to take those actions, but whether it breached the duty of reasonable care by not performing them (and it is a) jury question of whether performing that action in a certain way breached that duty.
Duty To Inform
âThe duties owed by a travel agency to its customer is governed (inter alia) by (the Furuoka case discussed above which suggests) that TDI may have owed a duty to Plaintiffs inform them of SMA's safety problems and provide Chinese-language safety instructions. That information may have been relevant to the scope of the agency relationship and of some importance to Plaintiffsâ.
The duties and responsibilities of travel agents to their customers have and may continue to expand over the years as new sources of technology provide more and more information [e.g., online traveler reviews] helpful to travelers in selecting safe providers of travel services. For a comprehensive discussion of the duties of travel agents and tour operators see Travel Law, Chapter 5 (2015).
The author, Justice Dickerson, been writing about Travel Law for 38 years including his annually-updated law books, Travel Law, Law Journal Press (2014), and Litigating International Torts in U.S. Courts, Thomson Reuters WestLaw (2014), and over 300 legal articles.
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