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

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

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Old Dec 22, 14, 8:02 am   -   Wikipost
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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: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-bi...:N:1474449:S:0
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Old May 25, 12, 3:59 pm
  #1  
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Million Miler Sues United [Judgment for UA Jan 2014] Judgment Affirmed Dec 2014

http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...,6676090.story

<snip>
A Chicago frequent flier is suing United Airlines for taking away some of his lifetime perks as a so-called Million Miler, someone who has flown 1 million miles with the airline.

George Lagen of Chicago claims United breached a contract with him when the airline combined its frequent-flier program with that of Continental Airlines after the airlines merged, according to a suit filed this week in U.S. District Court.

Moderator Edit 1/31/2013:
Originally Posted by tom911 View Post
(Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday rejected United Continental Holdings Inc's attempt to throw out a lawsuit accusing the world's largest carrier of taking benefits away from some of its most loyal fliers.

The lawsuit filed last May by Chicago resident and United customer George Lagen accused the carrier formed from the 2010 merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines of reducing perks for MileagePlus customers with "Million Miler" status.
http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/uni...--finance.html

And the judge's comments:
"It is undeniable that plaintiff claims he has and continues to suffer an injury based upon his lost benefits," Leinenweber wrote. "At this stage of the litigation, the court finds it plausible that defendants had a contract with Million Miler members which differed from the contract they had with other Mileage Plus members."
Nice day to be a million miler with some hope benefits may still be restored.

Last edited by J.Edward; Jan 31, 13 at 8:52 pm
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Old May 25, 12, 4:03 pm
  #2  
 
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My hero!!!! Now, which FT'er is going to fess up and admit it is him/her??
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Old May 25, 12, 4:09 pm
  #3  
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I wish him great success. Take COdbaUA down a notch.
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Old May 25, 12, 4:15 pm
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by blueman2 View Post
Wow, not my view at all. This is not about blaming someone else for something stupid you did to yourself. This is about a contract that was violated by UA. I do not see any comparison to trivial lawsuits here.
I did not mean it that way but I see where I might be misunderstood. (what i meant is airlines are such a great target for law suits that some really wont brew hot coffee!! while I kind of admire him for at least putting his money where his mouth is, I still think its a waste of the courts time. We are just to litigious in this country. If I thought he had a chance in hell, I'd back him but I don't see the point of filing suits that can't be won. IMHO of course.

Last edited by chinatraderjmr; May 25, 12 at 4:24 pm
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Old May 25, 12, 4:15 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by blueman2 View Post
Wow, not my view at all. This is not about blaming someone else for something stupid you did to yourself. This is about a contract that was violated by UA. I do not see any comparison to trivial lawsuits here.
The plaintiff did do something stupid to himself -- he did not read his contract. It is linked below, and as we all know United can modify the program at its discretion. He got what he paid for, which is $$hundreds of thousands of travel, according to the linked article. He may be really angry, as I would be, but I don't see the grounds for a successful suit. I'm sure I'll get flamed, but that's my opinion.

http://www.united.com/web/en-US/cont...s/default.aspx
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Old May 25, 12, 4:18 pm
  #6  
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It is a class action case (and from reading it I'm part of the implied class pre merger 1MM UA flyers) ---you can read the actual case here:

http://206.18.146.25/rfcViewFile/12cv4056-1.pdf

I'm all for the plaintiff's here

Last edited by jss; May 25, 12 at 4:28 pm
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Old May 25, 12, 4:18 pm
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This will be interesting.
Question is
Is ht FF program a contract?

Th airlines would say no, they reserve the right to change the program unilaterally.
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Old May 25, 12, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by davemflyer View Post
This will be interesting.
Question is
Is ht FF program a contract?

Th airlines would say no, they reserve the right to change the program unilaterally.
Airlines have successfully argued they don't even have to get you from A - B in a specified time or even on a specified day when you buy a ticket from them. The MP program conditions state they can pretty much change anything at whim. They suck for doing it but they can
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Old May 25, 12, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by chinatraderjmr View Post
I did not mean it that way but I see where I might be misunderstood. (what i meant is airlines are such a great target for law suits that some really wont brew hot coffee) I think I'll change that. while I kind of admire him for at least putting his money where his mouth is, I still think its a waste of the courts time. We are just to litigious in this country. That's what I meant. If I thought he had a chance in hell, I'd back him but I don't see the point of filing suits that can't be won. IMHO of course.
OK, you have a valid position there. Maybe he is charging a windmill, but I do think this can be won. He has to prove:

1) UA led him to reasonably believe that they committed to provide a service in return for his spending. Specifically, CR-1s for life, for example.

2) This representation caused him damage. For this, he will have to prove that choosing to fly UA as opposed to flying someone else damaged him. I know I can do this easily in that I can show many examples of where I paid a fare much higher than a competitor offered for the same router and same timeframe.

3) Icing on the cake: UA (intentionally or not does not matter) misled him (evidence their web site saying this perk would remain unchanged) further causing damage.

I think the damages that are most appropriate are between the time of the WEB site note saying things would not change, to when they finally said they would change.




Originally Posted by TheCount2 View Post
The plaintiff did do something stupid to himself -- he did not read his contract. It is linked below, and as we all know United can modify the program at its discretion. He got what he paid for, which is $$hundreds of thousands of travel, according to the linked article. He may be really angry, as I would be, but I don't see the grounds for a successful suit. I'm sure I'll get flamed, but that's my opinion.

http://www.united.com/web/en-US/cont...s/default.aspx
Yes, but all you have to prove is that UA misled him, that a reasonable person would agree they misled him, and that he was damaged as a result. To me, the first issue is pretty easy. The second, damages, is harder.

Last edited by blueman2; May 25, 12 at 4:34 pm
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Old May 25, 12, 4:29 pm
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He'll lose. Or more likely, HE will get some fee for being the lead plaintiff, the lawyers will get paid, and the rest of us will get a settlement of 1,000 miles or something.

When you buy your ticket, nowhere in the purchase / contract of carriage does it say that you will get miles. Not mentioned at all.

When you sign up for a frequent flyer account, you do so for free. You're not giving anything to be part of the program, ergo, no contract.

If you're upset about changes United has made in what they will give away to you, your appropriate recourse is to take your business elsewhere.
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Old May 25, 12, 4:31 pm
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Originally Posted by blueman2 View Post
OK, you have a valid position there. Maybe he is charging a windmill, but I do think this can be won. He has to prove:

1) UA led him to reasonably believe that they committed to provide a service in return for his spending. Specifically, CR-1s for life, for example.

2) This representation caused him damage. For this, he will have to prove that choosing to fly UA as opposed to flying someone else damaged him. I know I can do this easily in that I can show many examples of where I paid a fare much higher than a competitor offered for the same router and same timeframe.

Yes, I think we can all prove that. Truth be told, I'm angry about my lost upgrades, etc. but what INFURIATES me is thinking about the times I flew to Asia in full F and took UA instead of SQ cuz I was so close to getting my MM status. Then again im pretty stupid myself for ever taking UA F over SQ F
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Old May 25, 12, 4:38 pm
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Originally Posted by jss View Post
It is a class action case (and from reading it I'm part of the implied class pre merger 1MM UA flyers) ---you can read the actual case here:

http://206.18.146.25/rfcViewFile/12cv4056-1.pdf

I'm all for the plaintiff's here
OK, I read his complaint. Sorry, but this comes across as very amateurish. He should have just stuck with the facts which I think are in his favor. But the suit if full of emotion and necessary detail. My level of hope just went down.


Originally Posted by chinatraderjmr View Post
Yes, I think we can all prove that. Truth be told, I'm angry about my lost upgrades, etc. but what INFURIATES me is thinking about the times I flew to Asia in full F and took UA instead of SQ cuz I was so close to getting my MM status. Then again im pretty stupid myself for ever taking UA F over SQ F
+10. I think the reason this issue upsets me so much is that I feel very stupid for flying UA in paid C for the last 2 years because I wanted to cap off my 1MM. Otherwise, I would have flown LH or SQ. Yes, I feel stupid.
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Old May 25, 12, 4:57 pm
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I think this lawsuit is more about using potential adverse publicity against UA as leverage to get them to restore the lost benefits rather than winning outright. If the suit goes forward (and it's a big "if") the plaintiff can use Discovery to closely examine UA about both MP and the MM program. UA obviously would not want that.
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Old May 25, 12, 5:12 pm
  #14  
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Using the arguments in this thread, then i don't see why this would be limited to current MM'ers. If you paid UA Full F v competition for 3 years and ended at 990k miles, to me, you have as much damage as a current MM'er.

(FWIW, I'm still a yr from getting it, but I definitely directed BIS traffic to UA in expectation of 2 CR1's for life once hitting MM)
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Old May 25, 12, 5:31 pm
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Originally Posted by JetAway View Post
I think this lawsuit is more about using potential adverse publicity against UA as leverage to get them to restore the lost benefits rather than winning outright. If the suit goes forward (and it's a big "if") the plaintiff can use Discovery to closely examine UA about both MP and the MM program. UA obviously would not want that.
I'm not familiar with this particular federal district, but if you happen into the sort of judge who takes the view that a trial which requests jury, should go to jury unless the parties settle, then we're in for some fun.

It happened to me/my company as a defendant, and 4 years and a trial to win a victory on all counts for a BS suit was neither cheap, nor fun. Hard to tell whether there is merit here regardless of how I feel about things these days with UA, I agree with most that the contractual basis is pretty thin. But there's a bunch of other stuff, more than enough for some on the bench to let this go at least a bit more forward into discovery before handing down summary judgement.
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