Congress has created a number of regulatory agencies to administer the many programs it has initiated. In aviation, you will deal with administrative agency regulations more frequently than any area of the law, and regularly have to confront making decisions based on the Federal Aviation Regulations frequently. These regulations also establish standards of legal behavior by which a judge or jury may later decide by which a judge or jury may later decide whether you or your employer are legally liable for negligence in the event of an aircraft incident.
As an example:
14 C.F.R. § 121.533 Responsibility for operational control: Domestic operations.
(d) Each pilot in command of an aircraft is, during flight time, in command of the aircraft and crew and is responsible for the safety of the passengers, crewmembers, cargo, and airplane.
(e) Each pilot in command has full control and authority in the operation of the aircraft, without limitation, over other crewmembers and their duties during flight time, whether or not he holds valid certificates authorizing him to perform the duties of those crewmembers.
Apply these sets of facts:
Prior to takeofff, during the flight attendant safety briefing, 5 passengers are accused of making noises and are disruptive during the flight attendant briefing. The flight attendants stopped the safety briefing and asked then to ask them to settle down. They refused. The pilot was notified and in turn advised the flight attendant to advise the passengers that they would be removed from the aircraft if they failed to behave properly. According to the flight attendants the 5 passengers became more disruptive and told the pilot. The pilot decided to return the aircraft to the gate and the offending passengers were asked to disembark. They refused and the authorities were called. 3 disembarked voluntarily without incident but the other two had a sharp exchange with the authorities and were arrested. No charges were brought against the passengers.
The two who were arrested claim that it was the flight attendants who were rude and that although they were talking when the flight attendant was giving the safety instruction, they became quiet after the flight attendant stopped giving the safety instructions to ask them to settle down. After the flight safety instructions, the group resumed their conversation. The flight attendant then approached the group and repeatedly threatened to turn the plane around if they didn’t behave, The passengers challenged the flight attendants as they did nothing wrong, and then the pilot announced they were turning the plane around.
The two passengers sued the airline for mental and physical distress, humiliation and injury to reputation and character.
Based on the facts, please analyze 14 C.F.R. § 121. 533. Does the regulation preclude the two passengers claims against the pilot and airline regarding the action of the pilot to return the plane back to the gate and have the passengers disembark the plane? Why or why not?
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