Fortune Magazine explores that question here.
It’s an interesting article, but it looks like someone might have more of a cause of action against the person reclining if they do it recklessly/negligently.
But even so, as long as you were using the seat recline as intended, I don’t think you can sue over a cracked laptop screen from one launched off of your tray table*. It probably would take someone reclining and unreclining in rapid succession for it to be reckless or negligent.
I know a lawyer who once launched someone’s iPad by accident. He ended up turning to the person and saying, I estimate you may have a cause of action here that could potentially put me 50% at fault.
He offered the guy half the price of his iPad in cash on the spot to call it even. What I didn’t say in response is that cracked screens can probably get fixed for less than half the price of the iPad, so I would have taken the money!
Do you think you should be able to sue people preventing you from reclining? How about reclining people who break your stuff?
*This is not legal advice.