A Silliman College junior has filed a $1 million lawsuit against US Airways, alleging that the airline stole his video game system.
In the suit, Jesse Maiman ’10 claims his Xbox 360 was stolen during a December flight from New Haven to Cincinnati, Ohio. Maiman’s suit, filed March 9 in an Ohio common pleas court, claims the airline is liable for the theft of his Xbox from checked baggage. A spokesman for US Airways denied liability for the loss of the Xbox, claiming it is not liable for the loss of electronic equipment in checked baggage.
“Certainly a passenger checking electronic equipment onto a flight assumes the risk that his or her items may be damaged,” Maiman wrote in an e-mail to the News. “However, in no way does the passenger assume the risk that US Air employees and/or contract agents might steal his or her property. That is simply ridiculous.”
According to the initial filing, Maiman packed the Xbox and its components in “separate compartments” of one suitcase. The pockets were shut with zippers, Maiman said. Upon landing in Cincinnati, Maiman discovered the Xbox and its components were missing.
The suit asks for economic damages in excess of $1,005 to recoup the cost of the Xbox and a $701 refund on the plane ticket (Maiman claims US Airways breached its contract of carriage by failing to pay for the lost Xbox). In addition, Maiman is seeking $1 million in non-economic and punitive damages, the maximum amount allowed by Ohio state law.
In an e-mail to the News, US Airways spokesman Derek Hanna said the airline does not comment on pending litigation and added that the airline — according to US Airways’ contract of carriage — is not responsible for electronics in checked baggage.
According to the airline’s Web site, US Airways is not liable for the loss of checked electronics “when US Airways has exercised the ordinary standard of care.”
The suit claims a US Airways representative at Greater Cincinnati Airport blocked Maiman from filing a claim for mishandled baggage when he landed in Cincinnati, instead referring him to the Transportation Security Administration.
“[The TSA] confirmed by video review that Mr. Maiman’s property was not converted during the brief period it was under TSA control,” the suit reads.
After concluding their employees had not stolen Maiman’s Xbox, the suit says, the TSA told Maiman that US Airways would be liable if the Xbox was stolen while under the airline’s control. Maiman then contacted the airline again and filed a claim for his lost property.
“They [US Airways] employed oppressive and deceptive tactics in an attempt to frustrate me and choke out my claim,” Maiman said in an e-mail. “And what’s worse is that it normally works — people tire of the process and eventually give up … US Air needs to know that their deplorable license-to-steal attitude will not be tolerated.”
A March report from the U.S. Department of Transportation said US Airways received 15,157 claims for mishandled baggage in January 2009.
A hearing is scheduled for May 28 in Hamilton County, Ohio.