Dreaming of ‘Malicious Churning’

Linda Platisha, Travel Attorney I had a dream last night. I was in a courtroom defending U.S. Tiny Travel in a suit for “malicious churning” brought by the plaintiff, Omnipotent Airlines (OAL). The Honorable Judge McArco was presiding. The plaintiffs presented their case alleging that my client had intent

By: Linda Platisha, Travel Attorney

I had a dream last night. I was in a courtroom defending U.S. Tiny Travel in a suit for “malicious churning” brought by the plaintiff, Omnipotent Airlines (OAL). The Honorable Judge McArco was presiding. The plaintiffs presented their case alleging that my client had intentionally and maliciously rebooked itineraries thereby causing the airline to pay exorbitant booking fees to the CRS vendor and causing more than $1 million in damages. Even though my client sold only $50,000 on OAL, the airline issued my client $1.2 million in debit memos, which they now sought to collect.

“Your Honor,” I said, “this case should be dismissed on the grounds that there is no such tort as ‘malicious churning.’” Judge McArco looked puzzled. “There isn’t?” OAL’s counsel immediately chimed in, “Your Honor, this is a new tort. We are forging new ground and this is history in the making. We make up rules, laws and even new words every day, for example ‘noncommissionable.’”

Judge McArco made a decision. “Ms. Platisha, we are forging new ground here, and the airlines are always right. We are going to move on.”

Undaunted, I presented my case. “Your Honor, OAL expects customers to make up their minds within 24 hours after reservations are booked to buy tickets for travel months ahead of time. In some cases, they have to decide within eight hours or even one hour. These rules are unrealistic, which cause my clients to rebook some of these in the best interest of the traveling public.”

Judge McArco had heard enough and was ready to rule: “I find for the plaintiff because I am afraid they will revoke my supreme galactic status if I don’t, and I will have to fly in coach. I am, however, reducing the damage award to $1 million with the stipulation that U.S. Tiny Travel remain in business for at least 10 more years in the interest of the traveling public.”

“Your Honor,” I screamed, “that is cruel and unusual punishment!”

“Ms. Platisha,” Judge McArco admonished. “You should know better than to challenge the airlines. They are always right! This case is over.”

I woke up in a cold sweat. What a nightmare.

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