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September 2014

Gordon & Rees Partner Sara Anderson Frey Wins Arbitration for Airline Carrier

On Aug. 18, Gordon & Rees partner Sara Anderson Frey of Philadelphia won a defense verdict on behalf of her client, a major U.S. airline, following a binding arbitration hearing.

The plaintiff was a passenger on a flight from Orlando to Philadelphia. She claimed that after deplaning, she was walking up the jetway when a “pilot” bumped into her, causing her to fall into the track of the jetway. The plaintiff did not report the incident to the airline, but did inform airport personnel. An incident report prepared by the airport did not mention anyone knocking the plaintiff down, but merely stated she tripped and fell. Medical reports from the emergency room stated that the plaintiff fell while carrying bags.

The plaintiff claimed she sustained permanent injuries to her neck, knees, and hands and made a demand of $200,000, despite having had little medical treatment and nominal medical bills. The airline denied any liability.

The parties agreed to submit to binding arbitration. At the hearing, the plaintiff failed to produce any credible evidence that anyone bumped into her, let alone a “pilot.” She could not recall any distinguishing features of the person, other than he was wearing a “pilot’s hat.” She claimed that the “pilot” did not stop after running into her and that no one (including her sister and grandsons who were traveling with her) confronted the “pilot.”

Following a daylong hearing, the arbitrator found no liability on the part of the airline, noting that the plaintiff’s account of the incident was “absolutely incredible.”

Sara Anderson Frey