United States District Court, Southern District of New York
June 14, 1991
DR. BINODE DAS AND BIBHAS DAS, PLAINTIFFS,
ROYAL JORDANIAN AIRLINES AND BENGAL TRAVEL SERVICE, DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Metzner, Senior District Judge.
Plaintiff Binode Das (Das) seeks damages from the defendants
Royal Jordanian Airlines (Jordanian) and Bengal Travel Service
(Bengal) for breach of contract and negligence based on the
refusal of Jordanian to honor his two tickets for passage to
Calcutta, India, purchased through Bengal.
The action was originally instituted in the Civil Court of
New York, Bronx Country, but removed by Jordanian to this court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(d) which confers jurisdiction on
this court in actions brought against a foreign state. This
section also provides for a bench trial of such actions.
On June 13, 1989, reservations were made by Bengal for Das
and his son for passage on Jordanian's flight to Calcutta on
December 23, 1989, with a change of planes in Amman, to flight
no. 184. These reservations were confirmed by Jordanian.
Subsequently, on September 9, 1989, Jordanian gave appropriate
notice over the computer system that flight 184 had been
cancelled. On October 24, 1989, Bengal obtained new
reservations for December 30, 1989, but the passengers were
"wait listed." Das claims he was not notified of the
cancellation of the flight, nor did he ever request a change in
his departure date from December 23 to December 30.
On November 12, 1989, Das paid $2,424 for two tickets. Some
time between September 9, 1989 and November 21, 1989, Jordanian
had reinstated the flight from Amman to Calcutta, with a new
flight number of 194 and a later departure time. On November
21, 1989, Bengal changed the reservations back to December 23,
1989. However, by November 21, all the seats on flight 194 had
been sold and Bengal was advised on that day that Das was "wait
Das admitted in a letter to Bengal that he knew in November
that he was "wait listed." He made complaint, he says, to both
Jordanian and Bengal about his status. Despite Bengal's
knowledge of this, it issued the two roundtrip tickets in
question on December 4, 1989, showing that they covered
confirmed space. The details on the tickets issued were
handwritten. They were not computer-generated through
Jordanian's system. If they had been, they would have indicated
the "wait listed" status.
Bengal's owner testified that he only found out on December
21, 1989, from Das, of the "wait listed" status. He claims he
called Jordanian and urged the change to confirmed status. He
voiced his opinion that if Jordanian cancelled the flight and
then reinstated it, the holders of confirmed seats on the
original flight should be entitled to the same status on the
I find that independent proof of this obligation is lacking
and that such obligation does not exist in the industry.
The saga ends, of course, on December 23, 1989, when Das
appears with his son at JFK Airport to find that they were
"wait listed" without chance of obtaining seats.
I find that Bengal knew on November 21 that Das was "wait
listed," and should not have issued confirmed tickets to Das on
December 4, 1989.
It is clear that Bengal was Das's agent, and as such owed a
duty of due care to Das. It is responsible to Das for breach of
its fiduciary duty. Bucholtz v. Sirotkin Travel, 74 Misc.2d 180,
343 N.Y.S.2d 438 (Nassau Co. Dist.Ct. 1973); Levin v.
Kasmir World Travel, 143 Misc.2d 245, 540 N.Y.S.2d 639
(Civ.Ct.N.Y.Cty. 1989); cf. United Airlines v. Lerner,
87 Ill. App.3d 801, 43 Ill.Dec. 225, 228, 410 N.E.2d 225, 228
(1980). A cause of action has not been proven against Jordanian
and the claim against it is dismissed.
For its breach of duty Bengal must repay Das the $1,800 he
expended for the one-way tickets to Calcutta, the $240 he
expended because of being forced to wait until December 24 for
passage, and finally, $1,000 for the emotional distress Bengal
inflicted on Das by its actions.
The cross-claim by Bengal against Jordanian is dismissed.
Judgment shall be entered accordingly.
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