Teresa McGarry sought to represent a nationwide class of consumers alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, bailment and violation of both the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) after the airline suffered a data breach in September 2017 but waited to inform customers until April 2018.
Delta moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) preempted the plaintiff’s claims. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald agreed and found that precedent interpreting the federal statute holds that the “broad scope of ADA preemption sweeps claims as broad as those related to state consumer protections statutes, frequent flyer programs, common law covenants and advertising guidelines because they all have a connection to the core part of the ‘services’ that an airline provides, but does not sweep claims related to ‘amenities’ that airlines provide,” such as in-flight beverages and personal assistance to passengers with a disability.
With this background, the court found no enforceable contract in which the plaintiff could move forward on or make an argument that she was a third-party beneficiary to the contract between Delta and its online ticket provider, 24, a company that provides online chat services and collects user data for Delta, because it would require the court to look outside the contract between Delta and 24.
McGarry unsuccessfully argued that Delta built a perception among consumers that its data protection policies were adequate, creating a false sense of security and breaching state consumer protection and data breach laws by failing to maintain sufficient security, according to the complaint.
Finally, the court found that the plaintiff failed to satisfy the statutory requirements to form the basis of either an SCA or CFAA claim, lacking evidence of a knowing state of mind or that Delta gained access to her computer without authorization or that her customer data was accessed through the placement of unauthorized cookies.
The court granted the motion to dismiss with leave to amend.
To read the order in McGarry v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., click here.