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Civil Litigation No. 02-0255, 6/26/2003. Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) provides that states “may not enact or enforce a law . . . related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier . . . .” 49 U.S.C. �41713(b)(1). This case concerns the scope of this pre-emption provision, specifically, its application to state breach of contract and misrepresentation claims challenging an airline’s ticketing and boarding procedures. The trial court rendered summary judgment in Delta’s favor, without specifying the grounds. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the ADA did not pre-empt Black’s claims, and remanded the case for trial. The court granted Delta’s petition for review to decide whether the ADA pre-empts a passenger’s state law claims for an airline’s alleged failure to honor a confirmed first-class seat. HOLDING: The court holds that ADA preempts a passenger’s state-law claims for an airline’s alleged failure to honor a confirmed first-class seat. The court reverses the court of appeals’ judgment and renders judgment that Black take nothing. The court determines whether the claim is related to an airline’s prices or services within the meaning of the ADA’s pre-emption provision. Unlike the frequent flyer program in Am. Airlines Inc. v. Wolens, 513 U.S. 219 (1995), seating policies and boarding procedures are not peripheral to the operation of an airline, but are inextricably linked to the contract of carriage between a passenger and the airline and have a definite “connection with, or reference to” airline services. Morales v. Trans World Airlines Inc., 504 U.S. 374 (1992). Given Morales‘ broad interpretation of the words “relating to,” and the generally accepted understanding of the word “services,” the court concludes that an airline’s boarding procedures and seating policies “relate to” the services an airline provides to its customers. Because Delta offered Black and his wife various accommodations, including coach seats, Black and his wife were ineligible for denied boarding compensation. And because Black and his wife were not eligible to receive the denied boarding compensation from Delta, they could not possibly decline this compensation and “seek to recover damages in a court of law.” 14 C.F.R. � 250.9. Accordingly, Black cannot rely on �250.9, which, as a prerequisite to recover, requires the party to be eligible to receive denied boarding compensation. The court concludes that Delta’s boarding and seating policies relate to the services it provided to Black, and that Black’s claims can only be adjudicated by reference to laws and policies external to its contract with Delta. The court holds that 49 U.S.C. �41713(b) pre-empts Black’s contract claims. Because Black’s misrepresentation and fraud claims are premised on Delta’s ticketing and boarding procedure, they are directly related to Delta’s services. The court of appeals concluded, however, that because Black’s misrepresentation claims did not turn on any requirement imposed by a Texas legislative body, they were not pre-empted. To the contrary, state tort actions can be state enforcement under 49 U.S.C. �41713(b)(1). Moreover, Wolensand Continental Airlines Inc. v. Kiefer, 920 S.W.2d 274 (Tex. 1996), suggest that state misrepresentation and fraud claims are preempted by the ADA. Wolensheld that state law claims under a state consumer fraud act were pre-empted by the ADA. Wolens, 513 U.S at 228. Claims under a consumer fraud statute are comparable to claims for misrepresentation. In Kiefer, the court indicated that “an action for negligent misrepresentation might be . . . indistinguishable from the statutory consumer protection actions in Moralesand Wolens.” Both would impose state policies on the operation of air carriers that are external to the parties’ agreement. A state’s common law cannot operate against an airline in this context when it would constitute state enforcement of a law relating to airline services. Accordingly, because Black’s misrepresentation and fraud claims relate to the services Delta provides and if allowed would amount to enactment or enforcement of state law, they are pre-empted. OPINION: Jefferson, J., delivered the opinion of the court.

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