Breach of Contract: Lagos Lawyer, Wife, Demand N40million From Lufthansa Airlines

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A Lagos lawyer, Olumide Sofowora, SAN, and his wife, Olapeju, have slammed a N39,640,818.00 suit against Lufthansa German Airlines for breach of contract of carriage.

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In a renewed legal battle via an amended statement of claim, accompanied by additional written statement on oath sworn to by Mr. Sofowora, SAN, and filed before a Federal High Court in Lagos, the plaintiffs averred that by a contract, the Airline agreed to carry them and their luggage for reward by air from London to Lagos via Frankfurt on 28 September, 2019.

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After checking in online on 27 September 2019, and indicating the number of luggage they had for the journey the next day, they departed for Heathrow Airport Terminal 2 at about 4:30 am on 28 September 2019 and arrived at the Airport at 5:00 am in order to board the 6:30am Lufthansa Airline flight to Lagos, Nigeria via Frankfurt Germany.

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The plaintiffs stood in line at the Luggage check-in queue to drop their 4 pieces of luggage at Desk B25 but could not get to their turn on the checking in desk before 5:30am because of the long queue of passengers.

Upon reaching their turn and after confirming from the plaintiffs’ passports that they had checked in online, the defendant’s agent who thereafter asked one of the bags be placed on the scale/conveyor belt to be tagged, suddenly stopped and asked how many pieces of the luggage the plaintiffs had to drop. After confirming that they had 4 pieces of luggage to drop, the agent refused to continue the final check-in process for the flight saying the facilities to load the luggage on the flight had closed since they close one hour before the flight.

The plaintiffs said they pleaded with the defendant’s agent to allow the luggage to be checked in on the next flight from London to Frankfurt and thereafter connected to the flight from Frankfurt to Lagos, but the agent informed the plaintiffs that it could not be done because of security reasons; that all items of luggage must fly with the passenger and the only option left was to purchase new tickets for the next flight.

The airport manager of the defendant confirmed what his agent had stated and despite the plaintiffs’ plea the manager insisted that the plaintiffs purchase new ticket for the next London to Frankfurt flight at 7:30am. They complained that this was most unfair considering that they purchased Premium Economy tickets and already have confirmed seats for the connecting journey from Frankfurt to Lagos on the premium Economy class. All their pleas fell on deaf ears as the manager insisted on their decision.

The plaintiffs had no choice but contacted their travel agent to get them fresh tickets for the journey from London to Lagos via Frankfurt and had to be downgraded from Premium Economy to Economy class on the new flight tickets for which they paid the sum of N359,182.00. The previous London to Lagos return ticket had to be forfeited.

To the surprise of the plaintiffs’ they were checked in on the flight at 6:50am for the 7:30am flight and they were not told that the luggage boarding facility had closed even though this was less than one hour to take off of the flight. The boarding Gate did not open until 7:05am flight to Frankfurt. To the plaintiffs’ further surprise, upon boarding, the flight was virtually empty and their original Premium Economy seats on the Frankfurt to Lagos leg of the flight were also empty.

Upon arriving in Lagos, 3 of the 4 pieces of their luggage did not arrive. Thereafter the plaintiffs, like other several other passengers whose luggage did not arrive had to go to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on a daily basis to retrieve their luggage. The plaintiffs were able to retrieve 3 pieces of the luggage five days after.

The defendant later paid N72,000 as inconvenience fee and offered N84,520.00 as compensation for the items bought by the plaintiffs’ due to the delay of their luggage. Thereafter the defendant refused and failed to agree to pay reasonable compensation for the purchased tickets and delay of luggage stating that it was not liable to pay any compensation.

Consequently, Mr. Olumide Sofowora, SAN, and his wife, Olapeju, are claiming against Lufthansa German Airlines N20million as special and general damages; N359,182:00 being the cost of new tickets, N824,798:00 being half price tickets of the cost of ticket from London to Lagos, general damages in the sum of N10 million for denying the plaintiffs boarding at the London Heathrow Airport having checked in online; N8,816,029:00 for inconveniences suffered by the plaintiffs including loss of professional time in trying to retrieve their luggage.

Also, they are claiming interest on the total sum at the rate of 20% per annum from 28 September 2019 until judgment and thereafter at the rate of 10% per annum as well as cost of this legal action.

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