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I want my 7up in French or I’ll see you in court

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Sometimes you hear of ridiculous lawsuits with absolutely no basis. Tell us, do you think this one is justified?

October 4, 2012 11:46 by



Kipp is a genuine advocate of human rights and the protection it comes with but sometimes we can’t stop ourselves from wondering whether many of the citizens of this world jump at the opportunity to take advantage of its generosity. It is true that, for the most part, the law is there to protect the rights of citizens as well as corporations and it is also true that if legislation is in place, then voiding the agreement of said legislation can land you in a legal mess.

An Ottawa based couple, who claimed to be ‘victims’ of Air Canada’s breach of the Official Languages Act, filed over eight complaints in 2009 when they were not served in French at the airport and on the flight.  French, as you may have guessed by now, falls under the official languages that services must be available in. The only good piece of news for the Canadian airline is that, after a row with the Appeals Court, their penalty has been reduced to $3,000 from the original $12,000.

The court found Air Canada guilty of breaching ‘OLA’ on four separate occasions with the couple. Now Kipp has a fairly decent understanding of how legal systems technically operate but logically speaking, on what grounds would a court grant the prosecutors $12,000 or $3,000 if there were no punitive damages?

Here is a brief rendition of the couple’s alleged traumatic experience:

“At 11:46 a.m, the flight attendant came by and asked my wife and me, ‘Anything to drink folks?’ Lynda said, “Rien merci” [No, thank you]. I told her “Je vais prendre un 7Up s.v.p.” [I would like a 7Up, please]. She served me a Sprite.”

The languages act requires Air Canada, a former Crown corporation, to communicate and provide services in both official languages in the National Capital Region and elsewhere in Canada, “where there is significant demand for those services in the minority language and where it is warranted by the nature of the office or facility.”

More on that, this wasn’t the first time that the couple faced linguistic problems while flying with the airline. Michael Thibodeau, the husband, also had to suffer  a uni-lingual flight attendant when flying with the Canadian carrier back in 2000 while trying to order a 7up beverage.

He naturally (as you do) went on to file suit in Federal Court for $525,000 in damages. The court, luckily for the airline, did not grant him the amount he wanted but they did grant him over $5,000 and ordered the airline to make a formal apology.

The man really loves his 7up.

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