In a setback for airlines, a federal appeals court has ruled that a passenger who falls while disembarking from a plane has a right to sue under state tort laws because the pre-emptive effects of the Federal Aviation Act do not apply once a plane has come to a complete stop at its destination.

In Elassaad v. Independence Air Inc., a unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the meaning of a 1999 decision and explained that seemingly broad language in that ruling nonetheless has limits.

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