Delta Wants Consolidated COVID Refund Suits Tossed

By Brett Barrouquere
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Law360 (June 24, 2021, 2:08 PM EDT) -- Delta Air Lines is asking a Georgia federal judge to dismiss consolidated class actions accusing it of failing to refund customers for COVID-19 pandemic-related flight cancellations, saying the plaintiffs haven't shown how the airline failed to uphold its end of a contract.

In a motion to dismiss filed Wednesday, Delta said it has paid out more than $3 billion in refunds due to the pandemic and honored tickets already purchased before the outbreak. In the suit, the plaintiffs claim the airline didn't promptly provide refunds or inform customers, but don't show anywhere that the airline breached its contract, Delta said.

Delta said it promises only that refunds for credit card payments will "typically" be made within seven business days and refunds for cash payments will "typically" be made within 20 business days.

Complaints from the plaintiffs saying the airline didn't provide "prompt" refunds isn't specific and doesn't spell out a breach of contract, Delta said.

"Rather, plaintiff attempts to impose additional obligations on Delta not included in the contract of carriage," Delta said.

Delta is under no legal obligation to "directly notify" passengers of their rights when they purchase a ticket, the airline said. And airlines can't be required to do so in relation to airline reservations and refunds, Delta said.

Delta's motions cover three consolidated cases accusing it of violating consumer protection acts in all 50 states for refusing to issue refunds to passengers after canceling thousands of flights before and during the pandemic.

Instead of refunds, the airline offered rebookings or travel vouchers, even though passengers are entitled to a ticket refund if their flight is canceled, according to the lawsuit.

Delta updated its policy in April 2020 to allow travelers to change their flights for up to two years without paying a change fee, and those who opt to cancel will receive a travel credit.

According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Transportation in April 2020 reminded airlines, including Delta, of their obligations to provide quick refunds to ticketed passengers when a flight is canceled or a major change is made to the schedule and the passenger chooses not to take an alternative offer from the airline.

The lawsuit includes claims for unjust enrichment, conversion, fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of contract.

Along with Delta, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines faced lawsuits from passengers over flight cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.

Plaintiff Angela Dusko is represented by Annick M. Persinger, Hassan A. Zavareei and V. Chai Oliver Prentice of Tycko & Zavareei LLP; Roy Barnes and James Cameron Tribble of The Barnes Law Group LLC; Jeffrey Miles Ostrow of Kopelowitz Ostrow Ferguson Weiselberg Gilbert; and Melissa S. Weiner of Pearson Simon & Warshaw LLP.

Delta Airlines is represented by David L. Balser and Julia C. Barrett of King & Spalding LLC.

The case is Angela Dusko, on behalf of all others similarly situated, case number 1:20-cv-01664, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

--Editing by Alyssa Miller.

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