Skip to main content

Supreme Court hears case of Minnesota 'frequent complainer'

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday heard arguments in the case of a Minneapolis man who lost his "platinum elite" status with Northwest Airlines because he complained too much.

A ruling is expected by June in the case that had been billed as one that tests consumer rights versus corporate prerogatives.

But by their comments and questions, the justices on the nation's high court seemed to indicate that they weren't leaning toward helping frequent fliers who aim to sue airlines for revoking miles or memberships, the Associated Press reports.

Lawyers for Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg have argued that Northwest acted in bad faith when it revoked his top status as part of the airline's WorldPerks program. Ginsberg says he and his wife were loyal customers, flying up to 75 times a year on Northwest, and he argued that the airline cut him off as part of cost-cutting to save money. He said the airline stripped him of hundreds of thousands of miles accumulated in his account.

Northwest says Ginsberg complained 24 times in a seven-month period, including nine times when he griped that luggage had turned up late on airport carousels. Northwest argued that it took good care of Ginsberg, giving him $1,925 in travel credit vouchers, 78,500 bonus miles, a voucher for his son and $491 in cash reimbursements, the AP notes.

Northwest has since has been folded into Delta Air Lines Inc., and the airline further argued that federal deregulation of the industry in 1978 effectively bars lawsuits like Ginsberg's.

NPR notes that a central question in the case was: Do airline frequent fliers have any legal rights when they get into disputes over their club memberships?

The justices on Tuesday seem to signal that ruling for Ginsberg could prompt state-by-state rules that the deregulation law aimed to prevent, the AP reports.

Here's more background on the case from the Supreme Court's blog, including links to briefs filed by both parties in the case.

Next Up

snow

Winter weather advisory issued as Saturday snow arrives

Not huge totals expected, but any snow will likely impact travel.

Wilf

Report: Ryan Poles is Vikings' 'top choice' for general manager

Poles was one of two finalists revealed on Friday.

Payton Willis

Willis carries shorthanded Gophers to beat Rutgers

The senior scored a career-high 32 points to end a four-game losing streak.

MARCUS ALEXANDER STEICHEN

Charges: St. Paul man had sexual contact 'multiple times' with 12-year-old girl

Marcus Steichen, 21, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Charges: Mom killed infant son just weeks after getting him back from foster care

The 10-month-old died in her care in Brooklyn Park last April.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Arrests made following fentanyl bust in St. Cloud

Authorities searched two St. Cloud apartments Friday morning.

potatoes 2

Minnesota's 'frozen potato freeway' closure attracts plenty of comment

It was, let's face it, a very Minnesotan reason for a freeway closure.

Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 9.07.54 AM

U of M fraternity raises money for chef's knee surgery

The GoFundMe has raised around $1,700 of its $5,000 goal.

unsplash restaurant cashier register COVID face mask - crop

7 restaurant, bar groups sue Minneapolis over dining vaccine mandate

"Minneapolis bars and restaurants are being used as pawns..." the lawsuit said.

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 7.47.53 AM

Woman fatally shot in St. Paul's North End neighborhood

It's the fourth homicide so far this year in St. Paul.

Wild

Wild flip the script, dominate Blackhawks

Ryan Hartman scored twice to earn the first game of a back-to-back.

Hopkins Basketball

Hopkins suffers rare loss to No. 1 ranked Sidwell Friends

The Royals held their own in a battle of the nation's best.

Related