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Claims Nixed Over Jet Blue’s 11-Hour Plane Hold

(CN) - A comedy writer who says Jet Blue kept her stuck on a plane for 11 hours cannot sue the airline for false imprisonment, a New York appeals court ruled.

Katharine Biscone was planning to fly from New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport to Burbank, Calif., on Feb. 14, 2007. Her plane left the terminal at 6:50 a.m., but it never left the ground, and she was allowed to exit the plane at 5:30 p.m.

Biscone claimed that she stayed in her seat with her belt fastened for the first five hours while JetBlue personnel told passengers that the weather was "holding us up," and that they needed to be prepared on five minutes' notice.

The flight crew would not let passengers off the plane and threatened them with 20-year prison terms under the Federal Patriot Act if they tried to force their way off the plane, according to the complaitn.

Biscone said the crew served small amounts of food and snacks at the three- and eight-hour marks, but they directed passengers not to "doa No. 2" after 10 hours because the toilet tanks would overflow.

Buses finally came after 11 hours and took passengers to the terminal where they waited for their bags for two more hours, according to the complaint.

Biscone sued JetBlue for breach of contract, fraud and deceit, negligence, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She also complained that she lost business opportunities and missed a friend's movie premiere.

The trial court dismissed all but Biscone's claims for breach of contract and negligence.

A four-judge panel with the Appellate Division's Second Department in Brooklyn affirmed.

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 pre-empts claims related to the provision of airline services, according to the ruling.

For example, pre-emption bars Biscone's fraud claim based on the crew's alleged assertion "that the aircraft would take off or return the terminal gate shortly," the court found.

"The subject statements by airline personnel were directly related to the provision of an airline service," Justice Leonard Austin wrote for the court. "Since the plaintiff's fraud and deceit cause of action does not allege behavior that it outrageous and beyond the scope of normal airline operations, it is pre-empted."

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