For the first time, the Israeli Supreme Court approved compensation for mental anguish to a couple whose luggage was delivered to them late.
Today (Tuesday), the court justices Neil Handel, David Mintz, and Yosef Elron, upheld a NIS 5,000 ($1,450) compensation award for a couple who left for a trip to the United States and find that one of their suitcases is missing.
The couple claimed that the delay caused them great mental anguish, and the court ruled that according to the agreement regulating the liability of airlines in the matter – passengers can be compensated not only for the value of the equipment they had to purchase due to the delay but also for mental distress.
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The court adopted an interpretation that expands the scope of liability of an “air carrier” toward passengers. In the judgment, it was held that Article 19 of the Montreal Convention allows passengers to be compensated for mental distress resulting from the company delay or of their luggage.
In the current case, Israeli spouses took off on an Iberia flight for a trip to the United States. Unfortunately, one of their suitcases was delivered to them very late, on the eve of their return to Israel.
The couple filed a lawsuit at the small claims court which partially agreed with them. They received NIS 5,000 in damages for the mental anguish they had to go through, in addition to the replacement equipment they had to buy.
After Iberia airlines’ appeal was rejected by the district court, Iberia filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Montreal Convention—the treaty that exclusively regulates the responsibility of an “air carrier” towards its customers—removes responsibility for the mental anguish of which caused to passengers.
Iberia’s claim was turned down by the Supreme Court, which followed the rules for interpreting international treaties and looked at Article 19 of the Montreal Convention, which says that an airline is responsible “for damage caused by delay.”