American Airlines in Fight with Museum Over Fish

Posted Apr 12th 2011 12:30 PMUpdated Jul 15th 2011 02:27 PM



Michael Oh/Flickr

In a real-life fish tale a big airline is going head to head with a big museum. American Airlines this week filed court papers in an attempt to limit its liability after it was sued by the American Museum of Natural History in New York over the loss of dead fish.

At issue are two barrels of African fish, checked as luggage – not cargo -- by a researcher's wife, reports the New York Post.

The museum sued American Airlines last year in federal court, accusing the carrier of destroying the barrels, which museum officials said contained rare specimens collected by researchers from rivers in the Congo. The fish were headed to a museum laboratory.

On the way from Africa, the barrels apparently missed a connection in Brussels. American flew the fish on a later flight – as delayed luggage.

When they arrived in the U.S., the barrels were leaking and smelly and maggots were discovered, the airline says – the museum disputes this saying the fish were preserved in formaldehyde and sealed in two layers of plastic bags. In any event, the barrels were destroyed.

The museum is seeking $25,000 for the cost of collecting and transporting the fish. American says in its counter claim that since the barrels were checked as baggage it shouldn't have to pay more than $634.90 per barrel, or the same you'd get for a destroyed or lost suitcase of the same weight, the Post reports.

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there's something fishy about this whole story....

April 13 2011 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it's time airlines were held accountable for 'lost' items - we are limited to what we can carry on but the airlines take no responsability for what their employees steal.

April 13 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good luck with that. American won't restore costs for humans let alone fish

April 13 2011 at 9:49 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

The American Museum of Natural History is ours; it belongs to all of us, the citizens of this country. Every time one of the airlines gets away with something like this, it hurts all of us. Is it asking that much for American Airlines to pay $25,000 to reimburse the American public? The airlines don't take care of luggage - luggage that we now have to pay SEPERATELY to have travel with us. Property is stolen out of our bags, and our bags are damaged and lost and waylaid. American Airlines owes the people of this country the courtesy of repaying the museum in full for the damaged barrels and now also for the museum's legal fees (lawyers deserve to get paid for their work just like everyone else). They can take the money out of all of our ridiculous baggage fees.

April 13 2011 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Kimberly's comment

Child, they will raise the fees, not pay out from them

April 13 2011 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only thing any airline owes you is a safe trip. If you can walk away from the landing it was a safe trip. If you have something really super special why entrust it to an airline when you should know their reputation with baggage.? Maybe next time the museum will properly pack, crate and ship whatever it is they feel so strongly about.

April 13 2011 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dead fish shipped in a barrel as luggage? The barrels probably weren't meant to hold up for extended flights, including flight transfers, as luggage. Costly mistake for the fish museum, and I do not believe the museum has a valid foundation for a lawsuit here. If justice is done, the lawsuit will prevail in favor of the airline and the museum will be ordered to pay any/all legal fees and court costs incurred by the airline in this case. If these stinky, maggot filled, marine caskets leaked, the airline is already out money for cleaning up the toxic mess the barrels spilled and faces potential lawsuits to compensate flyers for luggage and luggage contents contaminated by formaldehyde and the aroma of eau de dead fish.

April 13 2011 at 9:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Paul C. Duncan

BOTH are to blame on thisone... First...the museum tried to be cheap & pass this off as luggage to save money on transport ,second... the airline feels luggage can be "delayed" like it is no big deal. people NEED their luggage.. people should be notified (since their tag is on the bag & they know the seat) of the situation so at least they may take out what they need or change their flight. Then if a flight was overbooked the sitting on the tarmac would be less. IF the curators knew what was going on...then they would have had to tell the truth, paid the extra fee & this crap would never have been in the news in the first place!!!

April 13 2011 at 9:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

One word for the museum. FedEx.

April 13 2011 at 9:23 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

typical airline bs.

April 13 2011 at 9:15 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I( believe American Airlines are lying.

April 13 2011 at 9:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It seems that the only ones that will be making out on this deal are the lawyers.

April 13 2011 at 6:59 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to peeper123's comment
Hello Master

and why else would they do this job? sexy secretaries? XD

April 13 2011 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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