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High Court denies damages to French-speaking Ottawa couple

By Nate Smith     Oct 28, 2014 in Travel
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Air Canada does not have to pay an Ottawa couple that filed suit against the airline because they couldn't be served in their preferred tongue.
Michel and Lynda Thibodeau made three trips between their home in Ottawa and the United States in 2009. They were suing because Air Canada Jazz failed to service them in French, which is the couple's primary language.
Canada's high court in a 5-2 ruling (which this ignorant Yank couldn't read because it is written in French) reportedly decided that Air Canada has no obligation to pay damages because the offenses occurred on international flights, a technicality that limits the airline's liability.
The court did, however, concede that the incidents were violations of Canada's Official Languages Act.
The Thibodeaus alleged they could not get French service upon checking in at the airport, when they were boarding or on the flight itself. Further, at least one announcement regarding baggage claim was made exclusively in English, the couple alleges.
The couple is reportedly bilingual, but argued in court their rights were infringed upon because they were entitled to service in the language of their choice.
A federal court initially ruled in the couple's favor, granting them a $12,000 ruling which was well short of the $500,000 they'd sought.
On appeal, in May 2013 Supreme Court took the case on behalf of the Commissioner of Official Language, which filed on behalf of the aggrieved couple.
More about French, Supreme court, Travel, Air canada, Law
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