Couple accuse United Airlines of overserving husband, causing him to beat wife

#1
Quote by Chicago Tribune


Couple accuse United Airlines of overserving husband, causing him to beat wife.

Conflicting laws complicate case, legal experts say

By Julie Johnsson | Tribune reporter
December 17, 2008

This is no bar bet, it's a lawsuit. Can you get drunk on a flight, then sue the airline for giving you the booze?

A husband and wife are suing United Airlines for "negligently" overserving alcohol during a flight from Osaka, Japan, to San Francisco, saying the carrier's drinks fueled the domestic violence involving the two shortly after their plane landed.

Fortified with Burgundy wine allegedly supplied at 20-minute intervals by United crew members during the December 2006 trip, Yoichi Shimamoto became so inebriated "that he could not manage himself," according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 5 in U.S. District Court in Tampa.

Shimamoto was arrested, accused of disorderly conduct and battery after he struck his wife, Ayisha, six times, injuring her face and upper lip as they were heading through U.S. Customs in San Francisco, the complaint said.


The lawsuit is highly unusual and will likely hinge on whether Chicago-based United, in effect, operated a flying bar that's subject to the same legal liabilities as earthbound drinking establishments, legal experts said.

At issue: whether laws that hold bars and restaurants responsible for harm caused by intoxicated patrons apply when the bartender and drinker are flying at 40,000 feet across international territory.

"United's first defense will be there's no tort action like this in international airspace," said James Speta, professor at Northwestern University Law School.

Although Yoichi Shimamoto was charged and sentenced to 18 months' probation, the couple contend that United Airlines ultimately was responsible for his violent outburst, according to the lawsuit.

United's "conduct was egregious because it knew or should have known that over-serving a passenger alcohol on an international flight would have negative consequences," the complaint said. United's "conduct was deliberate, reckless, intentional and done with disregard for plaintiffs and all passengers."

Shimamoto, a native of Japan, was prevented from returning to his home country while his case wound through the San Mateo County courts in northern California.

The Shimamotos want United to pick up the $100,000 tab for Yoichi Shimamoto's bail, and defense and Immigration attorneys' fees, as well as the costs they incurred to have his probationary sentence transferred to Florida, where his wife had a home.

They also want the airline to pay for pain, suffering, loss of income and "any other relief that is just and proper."

Responded United spokeswoman Jean Medina: "We believe that a lawsuit that suggests that we are somehow responsible for the consequences of a passenger's physical assault on his own wife is without any merit whatsoever."

Airlines are frequently sued for the acts of drunken passengers, typically by flight attendants or other passengers who suffered harm from an unruly traveler during a flight.

What makes this case a rarity, legal experts said, is that it was brought by a person drinking the airline's alcohol. By filing the lawsuit, the Shimamotos also risk having their private lives exposed by the airline's attorneys.

"The idea that the server should have stopped serving is often accepted when the injury is to a third person, such as in a drunk-driving situation," Speta said. "Generally, the courts have not been receptive to people saying, 'I asked for the drink and you gave it to me.' "

But crafting United's defense will be tricky, legal experts said, because the case involves conflicting international and state law.

Under the Dram Shop Act, which is in place in California, Florida and most states, commercial suppliers of alcohol may be held liable for injuries caused by intoxicated patrons, such as those Ayisha Shimamoto suffered. The threat of such lawsuits has prompted many bars to adopt a policy of not serving anyone who is visibly impaired.

Ayisha Shimamoto's claim that she was harmed as a result of the carrier's negligence, one element of the couple's complaint, would be a likely slam-dunk if United's conduct in question had taken place in a bar, rather than on an international flight, legal experts said.

Because United's alleged over-serving occurred on an airplane crossing the Pacific Ocean, a legal no-man's land, it may be subject to protocols spelled out under the Warsaw Convention, said Bruce Ottley, professor at DePaul College of Law.

The Montreal Protocol of the international treaty limits an airline's liability to damages that took place onboard the aircraft, or as passengers were embarking or disembarking, Ottley said. That is problematic for the Shimamotos because the battery in their case occurred in an area controlled by the U.S. government, not onboard the United jet.

"The airline is liable for serving him alcohol that caused him to get intoxicated," Ottley said. "This occurred out in the middle of the Pacific where U.S. law doesn't apply."

Carl Hayes, a Tampa lawyer representing the Shimamotos, declined to comment on their lawsuit.



Source


All I have to say:
Last edited by Tire Me. at Dec 26, 2008,
#4
My initial reaction was " Great... more white trash trying to make money, up there with jumping in front of a car and claiming a hit and run." Then i read "...the Shimamotos..." and i loose all hope in mankind.
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#6
Quote by DZCunuck
My initial reaction was " Great... more white trash trying to make money, up there with jumping in front of a car and claiming a hit and run." Then i read "...the Shimamotos..." and i loose all hope in mankind.


#9


"Oh no, the airline has given me too much wine!" *chug-chug-chug*

That's like buying a gun, shooting up a school and the school suing the shop who sold him the gun.
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well you don't have to worry,
if you hold onto jesus' hand
#11
Legal battles are just getting silly now. It's like suing someone for hitting you in self defence, it's really ridiculous the amount of precaution you have to take to avoid greedy and in certain cases; just plain over sensitive people taking from you.

The story is kinda funny though.
#13
Well they did serve him the alcohol that apparently caused him to beat his wife...imo they should know better that serving alcohol on a plane isn't going to lead to any good...
#14
Quote by ChicNStu0017
Well they did serve him the alcohol that apparently caused him to beat his wife...imo they should know better that serving alcohol on a plane isn't going to lead to any good...

It did not "cause him to beat his wife." It impaired his judgment, which led to his making the choice to beat his wife. Blaming the airline in this case is like blaming a gun in a murder instead of the person who shot the gun.
#15
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HOLY HELL.

nice discovery, sir.


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Last edited by coryklok : Today at 01:10 PM.
#17
So then they impaired his judgement by serving him an excessive amount of alcohol. May seem ridiculous that they're being sued for a man beating his wife, but they could have prevented it by not serving alcohol. I'm not saying I would have taken the same action and sued, I'm just saying it is arguable.

Oh and it's not like the gun situation. If you buy a gun you either already have intentions to kill someone or decide later. The gun itself is in no way influencing you to do the action.
Last edited by ChicNStu0017 at Dec 26, 2008,
#18
Quote by ChicNStu0017
So then they impaired his judgement by serving him an excessive amount of alcohol. May seem ridiculous that they're being sued for a man beating his wife, but they could have prevented it by not serving alcohol. I'm not saying I would have taken the same action and sued, I'm just saying it is arguable.

Alcohol isn't exclusive to the airline. He could have gone to a bar later on and had too much. Also, It's not like it was forced onto him, sure they would have offered it to him but he would have had a choice.

Quote by ChicNStu0017
Oh and it's not like the gun situation. If you buy a gun you either already have intentions to kill someone or decide later. The gun itself is in no way influencing you to do the action.

Yes it is. Having a gun gives you the means the kill someone, getting a drink gives you the means to get drunk which leads to the violence.
Quote by duncang
maybe it's because i secrely agree that tracedin inymballsackistheb best album ever


he's got the fire and the fury,
at his command
well you don't have to worry,
if you hold onto jesus' hand
Last edited by CTFOD at Dec 26, 2008,
#19
The World
What is it coming to?

this.

seriously, how can u blame somebody else for beating ure wife up.. If i was his wife i'd just sue the **** out of him, not the ****ing airline!

Its service that they've payed for, its not like the airline were giving the customers drinks without them actually paying, therefore meaning that its there fault for paying, so the consequences should be faced by the man, not the airline. and also, how is an airline supposed to be at fault for some greasy japanese twat thinking his big and hard, and beating up his wife.
"You're a twat!"- That dude in morrisons

"You Ugly git!" - That girl in the restaurant

"You Were a Mistake!" - Mum

just a few of my fans..



#20
The other day I was beating my girlfriend in the park and this guy was standing there watching me. I cannot believe the nerve of that guy. I've taken out a law suit against him for not trying to stop me.
#21
It's not like they just "offer" alcohol anyway. You have to pay for it.
#22
imma sue cos itz k00l.
"And after all of this, I am amazed...

...that I am cursed far more than I am praised."
#23
Quote by aaciseric
Legal battles are just getting silly now. It's like suing someone for hitting you in self defence, it's really ridiculous the amount of precaution you have to take to avoid greedy and in certain cases; just plain over sensitive people taking from you.

The story is kinda funny though.

how's this for funny....my aubt's house was broken into and the guy wo broke into it fell and broke his ankle.....he sued her,....he won....also..here in jersey, there is no self defense law
#25
Quote by darkwolf291
how's this for funny....my aubt's house was broken into and the guy wo broke into it fell and broke his ankle.....he sued her,....he won....also..here in jersey, there is no self defense law

what a great bump.
#26
That is beyond ridiculous.
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#28
If this works then it looks like I have a new get rich quick plan.
My style is impetuous.
My defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious.
I want your heart.
I want to eat your children.

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