CebuPac studying options after losing P2M damage suit
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MANILA - A Cebu Pacific official admitted on Thursday that it offered to settle a damage suit filed by a psoriasis sufferer but the airline's offer was rejected.
Cebu Pacific is still mulling whether it would file a motion for reconsideration.
In an interview with radio dzMM, CebuPac Vice President for Corporate Communications Juan Lorenzo Tañada said “we need to evaluate the case properly, check if we have overlooked facts, and see if there are other points of law which can still be exploited.”
The Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) recently ordered the Gokongwei-led firm to pay P2 million in moral and exemplary damages to Rev. Magnolia Nova Mendoza, who, it said, was “put in a situation wherein she was being subjected to a rigid inspection through no fault of her, thus bringing so much embarrassment, humiliation and anxiety on her part…”
Mendoza, an ordained minister and professor at the Silliman University Divinity School, was supposed to take a flight to Manila from Dumaguete at 8:50 a.m. on March 11, 2010. The check-in personnel, however, returned her ticket and asked about the rashes on her face.
Mendoza was suffering from psoriasis, which is not a communicable disease. To her embarrassment, however, she was asked to produce a medical certificate before she could be allowed to board the flight.
The CebuPac officials booked her for the afternoon flight without additional expenses as long as she could produce a medical certificate that she is safe for travel. Mendoza was finally allowed to fly that afternoon, but was urged to sign a Special Handling Form.
Tanada admitted psoriasis sufferers should not be barred from boarding their flights, but the ground crew had to “err on the side of caution.”
“Our priority is the health and safety of our passengers… If we err, we err on the side of caution,” he said.
'A LESSON FOR ALL'
Mendoza, on the other hand, said her victory is also the victory of other psoriasis sufferers.
She also told dzMM, “I am thankful for the decision. I hope this will be a lesson for CebuPac and for all psoriasis sufferers to fight for their rights.”
She said psoriasis is one of ten common skin diseases that is not communicable.
“Perhaps there is a need for information dissemination among airline frontliners… It is best that they know what is written on their manual for operations,” she said.
International Federation of Psoriasis Association Treasurer Josef de Guzman also lauded the decision.
He said this is also the victory of all psoriasis sufferers who have experienced discrimination.