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Landing the preferred place to sue

Landing at the wrong airport in Missouri and a lawsuit for damages a penny below $75,000 provides a lesson and warning about commercial law for Arizona businesses. Plaintiffs may try to game a lawsuit to seek a more favorable place to hear their claim.

The underlying case is a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines for landing at the wrong airport in Branson, Missouri. The plane flying from Chicago was scheduled to land at the larger Branson Airport, but mistakenly landed seven miles away at the smaller Taney County airport. It has a runway half the size of the Branson landing strip.

The plane had a rough landing when the pilot applied the brakes very hard and the plane stopped 40 feet from the edge of a cliff. The cabin had a smell of burnt rubber. Although no passengers suffered injuries, one passenger lost their job and all the passenger had to wait two hours before takeoff in a smoke-filled plane.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Missouri state court and alleged that he suffered severe mental anguish, fear and anxiety stemming from this landing. He also claimed that he suffered a panic attack which led to his removal from another flight before takeoff. He had to take a job that did not require flying at a lower salary.

He sued the airline for $74,999. This amount was not arbitrary or a rounding error.

Normally, a party in case involving businesses individuals from different states can try to move the case from a state court to the federal judicial system. Federal courts are viewed by many as being less friendly to plaintiffs than state courts. By suing in a Missouri state court and giving up a penny, the plaintiff may be seeking a more favorable place to hear his legal action.

Also, Southwest stopped flying to Branson five months after this incident and the closest airport is 50 miles away. Potential jurors may be inconvenienced travelers, a person who lost their job when Southwest dropped this route or otherwise unfavorable to a multi-state corporation.

The timing and location of a lawsuit may have an impact on business. An attorney can help protect parties' rights in these actions. At times, they may provide advise that prevent lawsuits or reaches a fair and reasonable settlements.

Source: Inc., "A passenger sued Southwest Airlines for exactly $74,999 and it's totally brilliant. Here why," By Bill Murphy, Jr., Accessed March 16, 2018

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