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Continued: U.S. Supreme Court cool to Minn. man booted from WorldPerks for complaining

  • Article by: KEVIN DIAZ and PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Last update: December 4, 2013 - 7:34 AM

Attorneys for the airlines, supported by the U.S. Justice Department, argued in court Tuesday that airline prices, routes and services fall under the purview of federal regulators, while Ginsberg has based his claims on Minnesota standards of good faith in contracts. The airline also disputed Ginsberg’s claim that he was booted from the loyalty program simply to save the airline money.

“Airlines do not have an interest in getting rid of their most lucrative and loyal customers,” Washington, D.C., attorney Paul Clement argued before the court.

Scalia: ‘a raw deal’

Justice Antonin Scalia expressed some sympathy for Ginsberg, remarking, “Wow, somebody’s really been given a raw deal.”

But Scalia, like several other justices, said it would be impractical to decide the case based on a single state’s standards. “I don’t want to have to sort these out state by state,” he said.

Several other justices questioned Northwest’s claim that the WorldPerks agreement gave the company “sole discretion” in tossing Ginsberg from the program. “If one party can get out willy-nilly,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “what kind of bargain is it?”

Ginsberg’s attorney, Adina Rosenbaum, told the court that if the airline prevails in the case, “people won’t be able to rely on the security of their contracts.”

A decision from the court is expected by late June.

Ginsberg said he is still allowed to fly Delta, but intends to avoid the Twin Cities’ dominant carrier from here on out. On the trip to Washington for the Supreme Court hearing, Ginsberg chose a locally based airline.

“Sun Country,” he said. “I love Sun Country.”

 

The Associated Press and staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. kdiaz@startribune.com • 1-202-383-6120

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