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Consumer protection for space tourist

A disappointed space tourist can sue under Virginia consumer protection law, an Alexandria U.S. District Court ruled March 3.

Japanese internet tycoon Daisuke Enomoto agreed in 2004 to pay Space Adventures Ltd., located in Vienna, $20 million to facilitate his travel to the International Space Station on a Russian space flight.

Enomoto’s federal complaint alleges Space Adventures said it had four seats to sell, even though it had only begun negotiations with the Russian agency when Enomoto signed. Enomoto later asked for a space walk, which cost extra. No word on whether they charged for in-flight soft drinks.

Enomoto said he was certified as medically fit by the space medicine board that considered everyone bound for the ISS. But kidney stones apparently scuttled his mission, and another space tourist who paid only $8M took Enomoto’s seat.

Enomoto brought a variety of contract, fraud and consumer protection claims in Enomoto v. Space Adventures Ltd. On Tuesday, Senior U.S. District Court James C. Cacheris dismissed the part of Enomoto’s Virginia Consumer Protection Act claim that alleged misrepresentations as to the defendant’s authority to sell a seat on a space shuttle and that Enomoto would be allowed to fly despite medical disqualification.

Cacheris said Enomoto could go forward with the portion of the claim based on fraudulent inducement regarding the space walk, a claim against a “supplier,” in a “consumer transaction.” The judge also refused to dismiss claims for conversion, breach of contract and breach of an implied warranty of good faith.
By Deborah Elkins

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