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Million Miler Sues United [Judgment for UA Jan 2014] Judgment Affirmed Dec 2014

Old Oct 1, 13, 4:03 pm
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Plaintiff: George Lagen, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated
Defendant: United Continental Holdings, Inc. and United Airlines, Inc.

Filed In The United States District Court For The Northern District Of Illinois Eastern Division

Case No. 1:12-cv-04056
Filed: 05/24/2012

Judge Harry D. Leinenweber
Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim

Proposed class: All persons, as of midnight, December 31, 2011, who were members of the Million Mile Program under United Airlines Mileage Plus frequent flyer program.

Filings/rulings can be found on www.pacer.gov (requires registration)

12 June 2012 - Amended Class Action Complaint filed
Spring 2013 - Court denies United's request to close case
Spring 2013 - Plaintiff files for suit to become a class action, United asks Judge before he decides if there could be limited discovery (which typically happens after case becomes class-action). Judge allows it.
August 2013 - Depositions/Limited Discovery completed and transcripts were handed over to the court.
22 October 2013 - Pursuant to an order of the Court, both sides filed cross-motions for summary judgment:

Plaintiff contends that he is a United pre-merger Million Miler, that United promised Million Miler fliers certain lifetime benefits on its web site, including two regional upgrades every year and Premier Executive status, which provided certain delineated benefits (e.g., 100% mileage bonus). Plaintiff cites deposition testimony from United stating "lifetime" means: "as long as they were really able to fly as long as someone is coming on a plane and alive and capable of flying." Plaintiff concludes by stating that United has breached its contract with its pre-merger Million Miler fliers by reducing the lifetime benefits they were promised.

United contends in its motion that Million Miler is part of the MileagePlus program, that United reserved the right to make any changes it wishes to the MileagePlus program, and that the changes it made that plaintiff now complains of are therefore contractually permissible. United does not admit, and does not address, the "lifetime" benefit statements that it made on its website.

23 January 2014 - Judge denies Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grants United's cross-motion for summary judgment. Judgment entered in favor of United.

The Judge begins his Opinion with a quote from Job: The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and then holds that Plaintiff has not produced any evidence that UA made him an offer to participate in a separate MM program.

The Court noted that: The sum total of his evidence is vague references to electronic and written correspondence from United, which, in both instances postdates his qualification as a Million Mile flyer and was not directed to him; and a 1997 Newsletter from United announcing the creation of the program he could not remember receiving. However the card he did receive from United, admitting him to MililionMile Flyer Program, shows that his new status is clearly a status within the Mileage Plus Frequent Flyer Program, as does the form letters United sent to applicants advising them of their admission to the MillionMile Flyer program. In fact, Plaintiff in his Complaint alleges that the MillionMile Flyer program was part of the Mileage Plus program. He has not produced any document that comes close to substantiating that the programs were separate and distinct."

Bottom line: The Court agreed with United's position that the Plaintiff had not proved the existence of a separate contract between itself and the Million Milers.

Full decision: http://media.wandr.me/MMerOpinion.pdf

20 February 2014

Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal of the trial court's decision. The record on appeal is due by March 13, 2014.

Appeal docs available at:
  • http://media.wandr.me/UAL-MM-Appeal-filed-2-20-14.pdf
  • http://media.wandr.me/UAL-MM-letter-of-appeal.pdf
Appellant's (Lagen's) Brief due 4/2/2014

8 September 2014
Oral arguments were heard by a three judge panel. Links to the original MP3 of the Court's recording and also some transcription can be found around post 2350 and for several more following that.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/23496499-post2361.html

22 December 2014
Affirmed over a dissent.
http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2014/D12-22/C:14-1375:J:Wood:aut:T:fnOp:N:1474449:S:0
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Million Miler Sues United [Judgment for UA Jan 2014] Judgment Affirmed Dec 2014

Old Jan 31, 13, 7:43 pm
  #886  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 485
Originally Posted by dgcpaphd View Post
Attacking? - - - - - -

That is certainly a strong word to use for disagreeing with an incorrect statement made by a poster.

The OP wrote something that is not accurate. One example, was his recent post wherein he made reference to what is supposedly official mandates from UA (a list).

However, the source he referenced was written by UA AFTER the demotions and breach were put in place by UA. It is obvious that an "after-the-fact" "list" to which the OP referred is self-serving for UA and has no bearing on the issue of UA breaching the agreement with million-milers.
-


You are absolutely correct. However, no such personal attack or reprisal was made. I am puzzled at how you could reach such a conclusion.

An incorrect assertion was made by the OP and I corrected the incorrect assertion so that other readers would not be misled by the erroneous information. The OP often posts information that is not correct. Other attorneys have called him out on his posts.

Should I have ignored the incorrect information and allowed other readers to be misinformed and/or misled?
-
I'm sorry, but the spirit of your words indicate otherwise. With purpose, you attempted to tell him that he was wrong and everyone else was right. You indicated that since he doesn't have a stake in the matter, it doesn't follow that he should have to express contradictory/minority views. And then you went on to mention that the conclusions of attorneys on Flyertalk are correct and by default that his are wrong. [Unduly personalized text edited by Moderator.] We can argue the merits of the case and disagree. There's nothing wrong with that.

There's a right way and a wrong way to handle misinformation. [Unduly personalized text edited by Moderator.]

Last edited by Ocn Vw 1K; Jan 31, 13 at 10:31 pm Reason: Per FT Rules.
iker is offline  
Old Jan 31, 13, 7:45 pm
  #887  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/uni...--finance.html

And the judge's comments:


Nice day to be a million miler with some hope benefits may still be restored.
This has been largely expected. There will be some settlement out of court, I suspect. It is in no one's interest to let this drag out.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 7:55 pm
  #888  
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Originally Posted by iker View Post
This has been largely expected.
I wasn't as optimistic based on comments from a number of members here that UA could change terms at will and that million milers were bound by the ever-changing Mileage Plus program rules. With the judge finding that it's plausible that the million miler program is different from the Mileage Plus program, it will be interesting how UA resolves this. Easiest solution would be to restore the benefits they promised me and other millions milers over the years.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:02 pm
  #889  
 
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You guys! The court declined UA's Motion To Dismiss! One of the three counts was accepted by the Court, which is HUGE. We are off to discovery!

The Court's ruling was very clear and that the breach of contract claim survives. We are off to discovery and the case now moves forward!

This is for all of PM MMilers who were promised LIFETIME benefits. This is HUGE and LANDMARK because the airlines hide behind their T&C's

WooHoo!

UG
UrbaneGent is offline  
Old Jan 31, 13, 8:06 pm
  #890  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
I wasn't as optimistic based on comments from a number of members here that UA could change terms at will and that million milers were bound by the ever-changing Mileage Plus program rules. With the judge finding that it's plausible that the million miler program is different from the Mileage Plus program, it will be interesting how UA resolves this. Easiest solution would be to restore the benefits they promised me and other millions milers over the years.
I think courts are reluctant to throw cases out when there's so much open to interpretation.

I suspect they'll grandfather those in and will reduce the benefits for prospective frequent flyers trying to attain such status.

The question isn't who wins the battle, it's who wins the war. United's ultimately lost sight of the bigger picture.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:10 pm
  #891  
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Originally Posted by UrbaneGent View Post
You guys! The court declined UA's Motion To Dismiss! One of the three counts was accepted by the Court, which is HUGE. We are off to discovery!

The Court's ruling was very clear and that the breach of contract claim survives. We are off to discovery and the case now moves forward!

This is for all of PM MMilers who were promised LIFETIME benefits. This is HUGE and LANDMARK because the airlines hide behind their T&C's

WooHoo!

UG
Ok, put the cool-aid down. I haven't had a chance to read the decision my pacer account went inactive. UA has to file answer. We all agreed that there was a claim here, it's now a question of whether or not there is any merit to it.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:10 pm
  #892  
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Originally Posted by colpuck View Post
Actually I am an attorney, and I will speak my mind about any legal issue I damn well feel like.
Do you have an opinion on today's ruling? A quick check shows you have the second highest post count in this thread, so I'd be curious where you think we're going.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:14 pm
  #893  
 
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What are the parts of the case dismissed? And - was it accepted as a class action or simply Lagen v United? I can't tell from the story.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:15 pm
  #894  
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
Do you have an opinion on today's ruling? A quick check shows you have the second highest post count in this thread, so I'd be curious where you think we're going.
I don't, I haven't read it. I always thought there was a claim. I still don't think there is much merit to it, but there is a claim.

Originally Posted by billxmeredith View Post
What are the parts of the case dismissed? And - was it accepted as a class action or simply Lagen v United? I can't tell from the story.
There will be a motion for class certification, and a class certification hearing before it is officially a class action.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:19 pm
  #895  
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Is there more incentive for UA to settle this right now, say, versus settling it a week ago, or is it better for them to drag it out as long as possible?
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:22 pm
  #896  
 
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
I wasn't as optimistic based on comments from a number of members here that UA could change terms at will and that million milers were bound by the ever-changing Mileage Plus program rules. With the judge finding that it's plausible that the million miler program is different from the Mileage Plus program, it will be interesting how UA resolves this. Easiest solution would be to restore the benefits they promised me and other millions milers over the years.
EXACTLY! And this is huge because it will teach other companies when the use the term LIFETIME, it means exactly that.

I was on the fence as to how this would go, because it could have gone either way. (removed text because I just don't care anymore)

Originally Posted by billxmeredith View Post
What are the parts of the case dismissed? And - was it accepted as a class action or simply Lagen v United? I can't tell from the story.
They dismissed counts 2 and 3, which was anticipated. The FIRST count, the most important was that United BREACHED the CONTRACT between the airline/program and MP Members (MMilers). Which is huge. This means the Terms and Conditions of the MP program, by the Court, is SEPARATE from the LIFETIME promises.

The claim was filed as a class action. It becomes a class action very soon. What happens shortly is United will have to send to every PMUA Million Miler a notice about the class action and telling them they can opt out.

Also, next is discovery, which means the plaintiff (which is basically all of us) now can see internal documents concerning all of this. Which means the website postings, them changing it, etc.

Whatever the case, United cannot just announce they are going to grandfather the PMUA MMilers, it's too late for that. They should have done it a long time ago.

UG

Last edited by iluv2fly; Jan 31, 13 at 11:16 pm Reason: merge
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:27 pm
  #897  
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Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
Is there more incentive for UA to settle this right now, say, versus settling it a week ago, or is it better for them to drag it out as long as possible?
There is more incentive for UA to settle, but if I was the Plaintiff's attorney I wouldn't. If court certifies this as class action, which the court should do ASAP under rule 23, the settlement will be a huge payday for the plaintiff's attorneys.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:36 pm
  #898  
 
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This is an entertaining thread!

I do not know if UA MM benefit promise was legaly binding or not, the court will decide this. However, the promise was clearly misleading. The lawsuit brings UA bad PR and makes consumers aware that miles and other FF perks can be devalued at any time.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:37 pm
  #899  
 
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Is there more incentive for UA to settle this right now, say, versus settling it a week ago, or is it better for them to drag it out as long as possible?
I don't know about length of time, but I would certainly take the Judge's comments as a signal to UA it might be better to deal with this before it makes it to trial. I'm not saying today's ruling means UA is going to lose the case if it does move forward, but the wording in the ruling does accept the premise of an inherent contractual difference btw the MM and MP programs. IMO not a good sign for UA.
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Old Jan 31, 13, 8:40 pm
  #900  
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Originally Posted by UrbaneGent View Post
They dismissed counts 2 and 3, which was anticipated. The FIRST count, the most important was the United BREACHED the CONTRACT between the airline/program and MP Members (MMilers). Which is huge.

The claim was filed as a class action. It becomes a class action. What happens next is every PMUA Million Miler will get a notice about the class action and telling them they can opt out.

Also, next is discovery, which means the plaintiff (which is basically all of us) now can see internal documents concerning all of this. Which means the website postings, them changing it, etc.

Whatever the case, United cannot just announce they are going to grandfather the PMUA MMilers, it's too late for that. They should have done it a long time ago.

UG
That's mostly correct. The court has to certify the class action under rule 23, which should happen. It's pretty clear this should be certified but it is not automatically a class action. They will probably settle before discovery, so I wouldn't get you hopes up too much. Also, discovery is generally not made public, you actually have to go the attorney to get it. Though I am not an expert in class actions, so I could be wrong about that.

does someone have a copy of the ruling they can e-mail to me?
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