In Stokes v. Southwest Airlines, the Fifth Circuit was forced to overturn its own precedent in order to determine that there is no independent private right of action to enforce the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) of 1986. This was due to a controversial case, Alexander v. Sandoval, where the U.S. Supreme Court held that no private right of action existed to enforce disparate-impact regulations that were created under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Supreme Court emphasized that “private rights of action to enforce federal law must be created by Congress” and that “[t]he judicial task is to interpret the statute Congress has passed to determine whether it displays an intent to create not just a private right but also a private remedy.” The Fifth Circuit recognized that this undermined its previous reasoning that an implied private right of action existed under the ACAA and overturned its past precedent. The Fifth Circuit correctly held that no private right of action exists because there was no congressional intent to create a private right of action under the ACAA, and due deference must be given to the Department of Transportation (DOT) in order to balance necessary safety concerns and troublesome discrimination claims.
Madison Gafford, Note, Taking an Independent Look at the Air Carrier Access Act: Why No Private Right of Action Exists, 84 J. Air L. & Com. 135 (2019).