Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Aer Lingus sued for $1m by woman distressed at loss of 'priceless' ring

A woman is suing Aer Lingus for $1m (€800,000) in the US after her engagement ring and other valuables were allegedly stolen from her luggage.  

Mother-of-three Sade Coppens has filed a lawsuit against the airline for "emotional trauma and distress" after a bag went missing following a transatlantic flight from New York to Amsterdam via Dublin during the summer.

The floral designer filed the civil action with a court in New York earlier this month.

Ms Coppens (28) alleges her two-carat diamond white-gold ring, worth $9,300 (€7,400), and other valuables were in a bag which was approved as carry-on luggage at a check-in desk at John F Kennedy International Airport.

However, when she got to the gate a flight attendant informed her that the bag was "too big" for carry on and would have to be put in the cargo hold.

After arriving with her children at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam she discovered the bag and a baby buggy had gone missing.

These were eventually returned to her 10 days later, but the ring and other items - including over $10,000 (€8,000) worth of photographic equipment and a Chanel bag - were missing.

According to a statement she submitted to the court, Aer Lingus only offered her $1,682 (€1,344) in compensation.

She is now seeking damages of $1m for "irreplaceable loss, punitive damages, emotional distress and trauma" and accused Aer Lingus of "negligence, immorality and insensitivity".

When contacted by the Irish Independent, Ms Coppens denied the sum being sued for was excessive and said the ring was "priceless" to her.

"What Aer Lingus has done to me is to take away very precious memories. One of the most important moments of my life was my engagement - and the ring was the symbol which sealed myself and my husband's commitment to each other," she said. She said the missing SD memory cards contained "all pictures and films of my children's entire lives, including birth pictures".

Aer Lingus is seeking to have the case dismissed. A spokesman for the airline, a quarter of which is owned by the Government, declined to comment.

Brooklyn-based Ms Coppens and her children - three boys aged four, three and nine months - had flown to Amsterdam to visit her husband, IT technician Aron (42) on July 22.

Although she "did not fancy the idea" of placing the bag in the cargo hold, she said she was left with no choice.

After discovering the luggage missing after arriving in Amsterdam, she filed a lost luggage report.

She said she spent the next nine days making "endless phone calls" to the airline and "had to wait hours at a time" to speak to someone.

Ms Coppens alleged she was passed between Aer Lingus offices in Amsterdam, Dublin and New York.

When the bag was eventually found and delivered to her on August 2, several items were missing.

Aer Lingus agreed to pay her €1,344, the maximum sum allowable under international rules.

Condon & Forsyth, a New York law firm representing Aer Lingus, wants the case dismissed as it believed the acceptance of the compensation payment by Ms Coppens represented the "full and final settlement" of her claim.

In a court filing, it also said claims for emotional trauma and distress were barred under the Montreal Convention.

A judge is expected to decide in the new year whether the case can proceed.

'Passenger's head struck by luggage'

Aer Lingus is being sued by a passenger who alleges he suffered a seizure after being struck on the head by a piece of luggage.

The lawsuit is being taken in the US state of Illinois by Christian Narkewicz-Laine, who is seeking damages of in excess of $75,000 (€60,000).

He claims the incident occurred on a flight from Helsinki to Dublin on May 12, 2012.

In legal filings, lawyers for Mr Narkewicz-Laine allege he was struck by "a heavy object believed to be a piece of luggage being handled by Aer Lingus flight attendants".

The filing alleges negligence by the airline.

It said Mr Narkewicz-Laine suffered a seizure and post-seizure symptoms, including vertigo, nausea and loss of concentration. He also became unable to drive. The airline has appointed a New York law firm to represent it in the case, but has yet to indicate whether it will file a defense.


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