Tuesday 12 November 2019

Woman to lose $1m case over missing engagement ring​

Sade Coppens, pictured with her husband Aron, in New York.
Sade Coppens, pictured with her husband Aron, in New York.
Sade Coppens was suing Aer Lingus alleging her engagement and over valuables were stolen from her luggage
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A woman suing Aer Lingus for $1m after her engagement ring and other valuables were allegedly stolen from her luggage looks set to lose her case for compensation.

A report commissioned by the US judge handling the civil action has recommended the case be dismissed.

Lawyers for Aer Lingus have applied to have the case thrown out, alleging Sade Coppens had already accepted a cheque for just $1,682 (€1,532) as "full and final settlement" of her claim before filing the lawsuit.

The airline argued that this was the maximum sum allowed under the Montreal Convention, a set of international rules governing the compensation of airline passengers.

The Dutch woman took the case against the airline after the ring and other valuables, including camera equipment and memory cards containing photos of her children, went missing on an Aer Lingus flight from New York to Amsterdam via Dublin.

Although the total value of the items was just over €24,000, Ms Coppens claimed some of them were "irreplaceable" and described her engagement ring as "priceless".

The mother-of-three, a floral designer based in New York, filed the lawsuit last November alleging "emotional trauma and distress", seeking damages of $1m (€910,000).

She claimed the bag containing the ring and other valuables had been cleared as carry-on luggage at a check-in desk at JFK International Airport.

But when she arrived at the gate a flight attendant insisted the bag was "too big" for carry on and would have to be put in the cargo hold.

After arriving with her children at Schipol Airport, she discovered the bag and a baby buggy had gone missing.

The bag turned up nine days later, but the ring and other valuables were missing.

New York district judge Joseph Bianco referred the matter to a magistrate judge, Kathleen Tomlinson, for a report and recommendations.

The report, seen by the Irish Independent, recommended that Aer Lingus' application to dismiss the case be granted.

It said it was not persuaded by Ms Coppens' claim that the Montreal Convention's liability cap should not apply.

The report also stated that claims originating from the sentimental value of the lost property and the disruption to her family's trip were not actionable under the convention, which rules out punitive or any other non-compensatory damages.

Irish Independent

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