Diefenthal v. Civil Aeronautics Bd.

681 F.2d 1039



The rule governing dismissal for want of jurisdiction in cases brought in the federal court is that, unless the law gives a different rule, the sum claimed by the plaintiff controls if the claim is apparently made in good faith; it must appear to a legal certainty that the claim is really far less than the jurisdictional amount to justify dismissal.


Plaintiff airline passengers filed suit against defendant Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and defendant airlines. Plaintiffs also petitioned for review of a CAB order finding that regulating smoking was within the scope of its statutory authorization. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' claims, and plaintiffs appealed from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, which rejected plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief against defendant airline and dismissed plaintiff's claims against defendants.


Did the CAB have authority to regulate smoking under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 and the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978?




The court affirmed, concluding that the CAB had the power under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to require carriers to provide nonsmoking areas. The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief because plaintiffs did not have an implied private right of action under the Federal Aviation Act. The court additionally found that the regulation at issue was enacted to control smokers, not to benefit them. The regulation requiring the division of the interior of an airplane into smoking and nonsmoking areas was reasonably related to the purposes of the controlling legislation. The court concluded that even if an implied right of action existed under 49 U.S.C.S. § 1374(b), denying plaintiffs the right to smoke did not constitute discrimination within the meaning of that section. Plaintiffs were simply unable to smoke while seated in the first class section. Plaintiffs' contract and tort claims against defendant airlines were properly dismissed for failure to satisfy the requisite $ 10,000 limitation required.

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