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Detroit Free Press
Michigan business briefs: Air carrier access suit allowed
September 4, 2008
A lawsuit claiming Detroit Metro Airport and Northwest Airlines impose obstacles to air travel for travelers with physical disabilities can proceed, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
The suit, filed in April by five southeastern Michigan passengers who have disabilities, claims that the Wayne County Airport Authority and the Minnesota-based airline have dropped disabled passengers to the floor, denied them accessible parking and repeatedly damaged wheelchairs, among other problems.
U.S. District Judge George Steeh in Detroit denied Northwest's motion to dismiss the case, and ruled it can proceed under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Rehabilitation Act.
Steeh did grant Northwest's motion to dismiss the lawsuit's claims that fell under the Air Carrier Access Act.
The lawsuit's Air Carrier Access Act claims against the airport authority also were dismissed.
In a statement, Northwest officials said the court concluded that discovery is needed to determine the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The airline is reviewing the ruling, according to a spokeswoman.
Airport authority officials declined to comment.
"For disabled people, this is monumental," said Farmington Hills attorney Richard Bernstein, who represents those suing the airline.
Bernstein is not seeking monetary damages.
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