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NJ Court Rules Against Lawsuit Over Airline Not Taking Cash On In-Flight Purchases
By Mike Mitchell

February 25, 2013 - Today, a New Jersey Appeals Court ruled against a lawsuit that was filed against Continental Airlines. The suit which was filed by a Continental Airlines passenger, Michael Rosen claimed he was unable to purchase alcohol and headphones with cash while on a flight from Honolulu to Newark in 2010.

Attorney Michael Rosen claimed the airline breached its contract when the carrier did not accept cash on its flights.

Rosen filed a lawsuit as a result of his inability to purchase a headset or alcoholic beverages while on a Continental Airlines flight on January 6, 2010 from Honolulu, Hawaii to Newark, New Jersey.

Rosen first tried to use a headset he had recently purchased on a previous Continental flight, that he had been told he could use on future Continental flights, but found that the headset jack was incompatible. Rosen then tried to purchase a new headset for $3.00, followed by an alcoholic beverage for $5.00, using cash. He was told that Continental has a “no cash policy” on its airplanes, and that he could not make any purchases unless he had a credit or debit card in his possession.

Since Rosen did not have a credit or debit card on him, he was unable to make any purchases while on board his flight. After returning to New Jersey, Rosen sent a complaint letter to the airline on or about February 2, 2010. Correspondence between the parties followed in March and April, but no agreement was reached. Rosen then filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County vicinage, on October 4, 2010. However that case was demised, he then filed an appeal. 

Rosen’s four-count complaint asserted the carrier (1) breached its contract through false advertising and failure to accept lawful tender; (2) violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (“NJCFA”), (3) unlawful discrimination against low income individuals who do not physically possess a debit or credit card; and (4) infliction of mental anguish and emotional distress. Rosen’s suit requested compensatory damages, enhanced damages, punitive damages, and damages for mental anguish and emotional distress. 

Today the New Jersey Appeals Court ruled that that federal airline deregulation law preempts claims under state law and Rosen did not have grounds to bring a class action suit on behalf of low income people.


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