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Sterman v. Trans World Airlines Inc.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, SECOND CIRCUIT


decided: September 1, 1981.

MILDRED STERMAN, ABRAHAM STERMAN, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHER PERSONS WHO PURCHASED OR PARTICIPATED IN ANY TWA GETAWAY FLY/DRIVE WEST TOUR IN 1980, SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
TRANS WORLD AIRLINES, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE .

Appeal from an order of the District Court for the Southern District of New York (Richard Owen, Judge), dismissing the complaint, based on alleged fraudulent misrepresentations in sale of a package "fly/drive" tour, for failing to state a federal cause of action under § 404(b) of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, 49 U.S.C. § 1374(b). Affirmed.

Before Newman and Kearse, Circuit Judges, and Eginton,*fn* District Judge.

Author: Per Curiam

Appellants brought a class action to recover damages for alleged fraudulent misrepresentations by TWA, Inc. in the sale of a package "fly/drive" tour. Appellants claim they were promised hotel rooms at substantial savings but were charged higher prices for inferior rooms than the hotels normally charged for better rooms. A federal cause of action was alleged under § 404(b) of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, 49 U.S.C. § 1374(b) (1976),*fn1 together with pendent state contract and tort claims. The District Court for the Southern District of New York (Richard Owen, Judge) dismissed the complaint, concluding that no private right of action exists under § 404(b) for conduct constituting only common law misrepresentation.

The caption and terms of the statute deal with discrimination. See, e. g., Fitzgerald v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 229 F.2d 499 (2d Cir. 1956). Though § 404(b) prohibits a carrier from subjecting a person to "unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage," these terms simply amplify the proscription against discrimination; they do not convert it into a general prohibition against deceptive trade practices, which inevitably place victims at some disadvantage. See Polansky v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 523 F.2d 332, 336 (3d Cir. 1975); Sanders v. Air India, 454 F. Supp. 1371, 1378 (S.D.N.Y.1978). Since the acts complained of are not within the scope of the statute, we agree with the District Court that a federal cause of action has not been alleged, without reaching the question of whether a private cause of action should be inferred in these circumstances. See Pavolini v. Bard-Air Corp., 645 F.2d 144 (2d Cir. 1981).*fn2 With the threshold failure of the federal claim, the pendent claims were properly dismissed.

Affirmed.


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