SC upholds junking of rap vs. int'l carrier

April 27, 2010 8:06 pm 

MANILA, April 27 — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday upheld a ruling of the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissing the complaint filed against an international carrier who has been sued for the alleged rude treatment to one of its passengers.

In a 15-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, the SC Second Division dismissed the petition filed by Edna Diago Lhuillier against British Airways and agreed with the ruling of the Makati City RTC Branch 132 that the Philippine courts have no jurisdiction over the case.

The Makati RTC said that while it sympathizes with Lhuillier, the courts are bound by treaty stipulations entered into by the Philippines, one of these laws is the Warsaw Convention.

Being a signatory, the Philippines adheres to its stipulations and is bound by its provisions, including the place where actions involving damages are to be filed, the Makati RTC said.

In this case, British Airways' place of business is London, Lhuillier bought her ticket in Rome and it was also her destination, the SC said, it follows that the complaint should be filed either in London or Rome, Italy and that the British Airways is considered an international carrier.

The SC dismissed the argument raised by Lhuillier that her case was not a contract of carriage but due to the unruly behavior of the airline employees.

It said that the Warsaw Convention did not distinguish between contract of carriage and behavior of employees as reason for the "tort".

"We held that the allegation of willful misconduct resulting in a 'tort' is insufficient to exclude the case from the realm of the Warsaw Convention," the SC said.

The case stemmed in 2005 when Lhuillier took flight 548 from London, United Kingdom to Rome, Italy.

While on board, she allegedly asked one of the flight attendants Julian Halliday, to help her in placing her hand-carried luggage in the overhead bin but Halliday allegedly refused to help and told her "if I were to help all 300 passengers in this flight, I would have a broken back."

When the plane landed in Rome, Italy, another flight attendant Nickolas Kerrigan allegedly singled her out from among all passengers in the business class and lectured her about plane safety.

Kerrigan allegedly made her appear uneducated and stupid.

Lhuillier said that she reasoned out but Kerrigan told her "we don't like your attitude."

In Rome, the ground manager apologized and told her that they were only performing their job.

Upon arrival in the Philippines, Lhuillier immediately filed a complaint for damages, which was sent through Euro-Philippines Airline Services, Inc. (PNA)

V3/PTR

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