RICO Lawsuit Against Spirit Airlines for Fake Cheap Fares Can Proceed, Appeals Court Rules

Ah, Spirit Airlines. Love them for making you feel like jetting away is within your financial reach; hate them for the poor service, the tagged-on baggage charges, and the walk of shame you have to do emerging from their terminal instead of Virgin Atlantic's.

Several plaintiffs had filed a federal civil lawsuit against Miramar-based Spirit alleging that its m.o. --- advertising ultra cheap fares, only to tack on fees that raise the true price of a ticket -- is deceptive.

Interestingly, the lawsuit was premised on the idea that Spirit can be charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the same law used to take down drug trafficking rings and the mafia. The suit alleges that Spirit committed "predicate acts of mail and wire fraud involving the concealment and misrepresentation of airfares and user fees."

Long story short, Spirit argued, and the district court agreed that the case should be dismissed because "federal regulation of the airline industry precluded Plaintiffs' civil RICO claims."

But plaintiffs appealed, and this week, judges from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote "we disagree" that the case should be tossed. They remanded the case -- Bryan Ray et al. vs. Spirit Airlines, Inc. -- back to the district court.

May justice and refreshing vacations prevail.

Email Deirdra.Funcheon@BrowardPalmBeach.com

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