THIS AND ANOTHER QUARTER CAN BUY YOU A BIG MAC

THIS AND ANOTHER QUARTER CAN BUY YOU A BIG MAC

For Iris Statland, it had to be a matter of principle. It couldn't have been a matter of money.

The Chicago woman brought a class action suit against American Airlines in early 1992, alleging the airline failed to tell her it would retain 10 percent of a federal excise tax on her ticket as a penalty for canceling a flight. The amount she lost? $1.25.The case wended its way through the legal system, finally reaching the U.S. Supreme Court in October. Lower courts already had dismissed the action, and the justices declined to review the case on Monday.

By law, airlines charge a 10 percent tax on each passenger ticket, the proceeds of which are turned over to the federal government.

Ms. Statland's attorneys said the justices needed to define how far federal aviation law can go in pre-empting state laws that don't relate to rates, routes or services and don't have a direct impact on the airline's ability to market its product.

Terry Rose Saunders, Ms. Statland's attorney, said her client is one of many individuals who cancelled flights and either never received a refund of the tax or only received a partial refund.