El lagarto es peligroso, but not compensable

We’ve all come to expect a certain level of cost-cutting with airlines. With that in mind, we offer our thanks to Gothamist, who provides this story about Plaintiff Monserrate Luna, who has appealed an order granting summary judgment against her in last year’s Luna v. American Airlines, 676 F. Supp. 2d 192 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). Ms. Luna seeks to protect the quality of airline food for all of us via a tort suit with a $15 million demand. Her complaint – she orally palpated “‘a chunk of lizard’ that was mixed in with her food.” Earlier this year, Ms. Luna appealed the federal district court’s grant of summary judgment, and the appeal is now pending before the Second Circuit. If Ms. Luna wanted a viable lawsuit, she should have just swabbed a few areas of the plane and cultured the innumerable diseases that live there. Nevertheless, Ms. Luna decided that food safety is a greater priority. Just ask Roger Murdock.

The lawsuit is what you would expect. Ms. Luna placed some of the chicken meal in her mouth, found that she could not chew or swallow part of it, and removed it from her mouth. Her five-year-old-son remarked that the removed portion looked like a small animal, surely along the lines of the how this pancake bears the images of Mary and Jesus (or perhaps a “bedouin and Santa Claus”). Ms. Luna then placed the reptilian regurgitant in a napkin to more fully discuss the matter with a crew member. There was some disagreement whether the partially masticated mess was a lizard or a feather. Nevertheless, the crew member offered to wrap the item for Luna so that she could preserve it and make a formal complaint. Luna apparently refused, and the crew trashed the lizard. Surprisingly, Luna claimed diarrhea and emotional distress.

You can read the rest of the summary judgment order yourself. I will note that valuable resources of the federal judiciary were occupied hearing the motions and writing the 41 page order in this case. Moreover, there was a fair amount of discovery taken in this case, with the plaintiff deposed not once but twice. Perhaps the airline’s attorney could not believe what he heard the first time. There was also some talk of Luna amending her complaint to add sasquatch fur as a second foreign object, and the airline was forced to conduct discovery on the existence of Bigfoot.

I now fear that someday I may be writing on discovery relating to sasquatch. After all, if Luna had alleged that she had sasquatch fur in her food (and had retained the fur), wouldn’t that be a cognizable claim? My hope is that the sasquatch case is filed in South Carolina, and I get to be a part of that discovery.

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