June 27, 2007
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit sent a strong message to the airline industry and its insurers today, rejecting Southwest Airlines' continuing effort to take away airplane crash victims' rights to choose where their cases will be heard.
Exactly two months ago, the Court of Appeals ruled the claims of those injured in the Southwest Airlines airplane crash at Midway Airport in Chicago on December 8, 2005, must be heard in the state court the victims had selected instead of the federal court the airline preferred. Southwest Airlines and its co-defendants had argued to the Appeals Court that the passengers' claims should be removed from state court to federal court simply because they may involve violations of federal aviation regulations. The Court of Appeals soundly rejected that argument, holding the passengers claims do not "arise under federal law," but rather, they involve matters of state law on issues such as aviation negligence and damages. Accordingly, the Court ordered that the cases be remanded back to the Circuit Court of Cook County, where the victims had chosen to file their claims.
On May 10, 2007, Southwest Airlines filed a petition for rehearing, essentially asking the Court to reconsider its ruling. The petition claimed the experienced panel of judges, including Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook, Judge William Bauer and Judge Diane Wood, had overlooked and misapprehended Southwest's arguments.
An answer to Southwest's petition was submitted on behalf of the victims by David E. Rapoport and Joshua L. Weisberg of Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., pointing out the Court had considered and rejected Southwest's arguments the first time with good reason and there was no need to waste the Court's time rehearing these arguments again.
The Seventh Circuit agreed, bluntly telling Southwest in unmistakably clear terms, "We had not overlooked [your] argument; we just thought it too feeble to require comment." The Court's opinion concluded, "The petition for rehearing is denied, and no judge has asked for a vote on the petition for rehearing en banc."
According to Mr. Rapoport, "This strongly worded decision establishes a powerful new precedent for other federal courts to follow, and should discourage the airlines from attempting to stretch the jurisdiction of the federal courts far beyond what the Constitution allows."
Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., is a personal injury law firm based in Chicago, Illinois. The personal injury attorneys at Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., have achieved multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for individuals with lawsuits arising from medical malpractice, product liability, semitruck and motor vehicle accidents, workplace injuries and construction accidents in Illinois and Wisconsin. Rapoport Law Offices, P.C.'s premier aviation negligence lawyers represent victims of commercial and general aviation disasters nationwide.
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