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Airline not liable for lost jewels

A Florida woman, whose claim that an airline's liability limit for lost luggage should not apply to her $431,000 worth of stolen jewelry, was sent packing.

The Supreme Court, without comment, upheld a lower court's decision that Delta Air Lines did not have to pay more than a $1,250 limit on damages.

"I think it's an absolute outrage, a complete miscarriage of justice," Felice Lippert said Monday. "These were personal belongings that we were forced to relinquish to them. I believe this will have an effect on millions and millions of travelers."

Lippert arrived at Palm Beach International Airport on March 8, 1986, for a Delta Air Lines flight to New York City.

She carried with her a satchel that contained her mostly uninsured jewelry.

Mrs. Lippert placed it on the conveyor belt of a magnetometer and walked through the metal detector leading to a secured portion of the airport. When she walked forward to the end of the conveyor belt, the satchel was gone.

Because the secured area was used exclusively for Delta flights, the airline was responsible for operating the security checkpoint.

She sued Delta for the value of her lost jewelry, contending the airline was negligent. A state jury awarded her $431,000 but the Florida Supreme Court said her award could not be more than $1,250.

The state court noted that the limit would not apply if Mrs. Lippert had no airline ticket but instead had accompanied a passenger through the checkpoint.

In other actions, the court:

Threw out a $148-million antitrust verdict against a cigarette maker for alleged below-cost pricing. On a 6-3 vote, the court said it did not seem plausible that a relatively small tobacco company had slashed the prices of its generic cigarettes on the assumption that it could drive out of a business an even smaller company and thereafter raise prices.

Without comment let stand a ruling requiring the Topeka, Kan., school district to do more to desegregate its schools. The school system, whose segregation policies were the focus of the famous Brown vs. Board of Education ruling in 1954, has not separated pupils by race since then. But neither has it bused students to integrated them and a U.S. appeals court in Denver ruled that it must consider further steps to bring about desegregation.

_ Information from the Los Angeles Times and Cox News Service was used in this report.