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Judge Sues Airline Over Luggage Delay

November 30, 1989

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) _ A state supreme court justice who is suing Trans World Airlines over a delay in getting his luggage has filed more papers in the case, this time likening himself to Don Quixote as he seeks $38,000 in damages.

Justice Richard Neely filed a lawsuit in July seeking the damages from the airline as well as a $3,000 speaking fee for telling passengers what he thought was the delay in receiving their luggage.

The July incident was ″vexatious,″ Neely said in papers filed Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court to try to force the airline to supply information.

″After standing around in a confined space at about 88 degrees Fahrenheit at Kennedy Airport for over half an hour, plaintiff and about 150 other passengers concluded that their baggage was in imminent peril of taking an unscheduled trip to their plane’s next stop, Frankfurt, Germany,″ Neely said in the documents.

Neely, who had flown from Seattle to New York, said he was told by a TWA employee that the plane’s cargo door was jammed and he stood on a luggage conveyor belt to relay that information to other passengers.

″Plaintiff was mistaken for a TWA employee and subjected to obloquy, ridicule, contempt and abuse - Don Quixote doing a good deed for the galley slaves,″ the justice said.

Robert King, an attorney for TWA, said Wednesday the airline denies that Neely’s luggage was delayed and said his suit is intended to harass the airline.

″We have previously said we believe the lawsuit to be frivolous, and we intend to defend it vigorously, and we intend to be successful in that defense,″ King said.

The documents filed were Neely’s second attempt to get the court to force TWA to provide all statements issued or published by TWA Chairman Carl Icahn about employee compensation through July 1989.

Neely claims that TWA, under Icahn, instituted policies it knew would ″lower employee morale, create an atmosphere of passive resistance amoung defendant’s lower echelon employees and inevitably result in the abusive treatment of passengers.″

″At trial plaintiff will try to prove that Mr. Icahn’s leveraged buyout of TWA has diverted money from passenger amenities - particularly sufficienty personnel competently to handle lost and delayed baggage claims - to junk bond speculators.″

King called Neely’s request for documents ″way beyond the bounds of proper discovery.″

A circuit court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 14.

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