City of Dallas v. Delta Air Lines, No. 16-10051 (5th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Love Field airport is owned by the City and leased in part to Southwest Airlines. The City sought a declaration determining whether it must order Southwest to accommodate Delta at Love Field under the Lease Agreement or otherwise. Delta, Southwest, and the City filed competing motions for preliminary injunctions. The district court denied Southwest's motion and entered a preliminary injunction in favor of Delta essentially permitting Delta to continue operating five flights daily until a final decision on the merits. On appeal, Southwest argues that Delta is not a third party beneficiary and that the Lease Agreement does not require the accommodation Delta seeks. The court agreed with the district court that Delta and the City have shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on the claim that the Lease Agreement requires Delta to be accommodated. In this case, the Lease Agreement plainly establishes a duty to accommodate by both Southwest and the City, and the scope of that duty is determined largely through the interpretation of language which the Lease Agreement itself leaves undefined. Interpreting such language, the district court found - and the court found persuasive - that Southwest owed the duty to accommodate Delta under these circumstances. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order terminating the City's motion as moot; rendered judgment granting the City's motion for a preliminary injunction and ordering the accommodation of Delta; and affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction for Southwest.