Ever get one of those notices that you werea victim in a class action action lawsuit and will be able to collect...usually not much? Surprises you, because you did not even know you were hurt or a victim, no?
You know how it goes: Mindless Lawsuits R Us sends you a notice saying that you are a party to this or that suit and that justice has prevailed and you will not be able to get your pound of flesh from the offender. You can choose to opt out, in most cases, but, hey, wait, there is some reward coming -- for the attorneys, mostly. They sue XYZ Company for a widget defect and you get damages worth three cents off XYZ Company's next and newer widget, and the attorneys get millions.
In this case, attorney Adam Levitt's beef was with Southwest Airlines, which changed its free drink policy when it revamped its frequent flier program. Southwest Airlines flies the most domestic passengers of any US carrier, and a great many of them pass through what used to be a graveyard of airports, Midway Airport.
What Southwest did was scotch its free drink program by voiding the non-expiring vouchers that "Business Select" customers used to get. They could use the vouchers on the day of their flights, or they could use them when they went to Las Vegas later in the year to contribute to the casino industry. Didn't matter. Everybody who was in the program, including me, got a letter, saying my treasured vouchers are now useless scraps of paper. The letter said, basically, use the voucher the day of the flight or lose it, so all those other vouchers collecting on your desk, were now good for tossing in the fire.
My first thought was to call a lawyer, but I had other, more pressing things to do, like cut the grass. So I forgot all about it.
Not Levitt. He saw the vouchers as a contract, and interpreted Southwest Airlines, in changing the rules midstream, as causing a breach of contract. He called another Chicago attorney, Joseph Siprut, who brought greedy Southwest to its knees and is going to make them hand over the free booze. The settlement could be worth $29 million dollars, with Southwest on the hook for the legal fees, which are estimated to be in the millions. It is one of those rare class action suits where the plaintiffs will actually get something more than a few pennies. They will get fully compensated and more, perhaps.
Levitt is probably correct, in legal terms. A smarter way for Southwest Airlines to cut off the alleged, potential, possible drunks might have been to let them use their awarded vouchers and be done with it until the last one disappeared from the friendly skies. The letter of the law is upheld, along with the spirits, apparently.
Now, anybody who was in the "Business Select" class between certain years can simply fill out a form (look for it in the mail) and claim they lost the use of any number of vouchers. As far as I know, there are no limits to the number of unused vouchers you can claim. Yahoo!
Maybe the whole deal can go full circle, with Levitt and Siprut representing those molested and attacked by some airdrunk using one too many of the vouchers?
Justice prevails. The drinks will flow. The attorney's will stay in the One Percent. Southwest might have to raise their fares a bit higher to compensate for the flow of alcohol. Who knows?
All is good.
I wonder if Levitt and Siprut can take on the kicking toddlers who attack the back of your seat all through a flight, or Mr. Hairy Ears who reclines his seat back into your lap for a scalp massage and a possible trim?