Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wacky Air Travel Case

The Widget:

Court: First Circuit
Judge: Lynch
Subject: Our glorious system of commercial air travel
Tone: Not happy
Importance: 5.9

Winning in the trial court is great, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. That, in part, is what this blog about. And it’s a lesson that the plaintiff learned today in Cerqueira v. American Airlines, First Cir. No. 07-1824.

The case, which relates to the removal of an individual from a Logan-Ft. Lauderdale flight in December 2003, is a good deal more engrossing than you’d expect. There are two perspectives here. The plaintiff’s perspective is this: he was yanked off the flight because he looked like he was Middle Eastern (he was not). The airline’s perspective, adopted by the court, is that the plaintiff was yanked off the flight because he was abusive during the boarding process, disappeared into the restroom for an extended period while the plane was sitting at the terminal, and the goofed off during the exit row safety briefing. These are not things to do in a post-September 11 world, apparently.

There’s a lesson. Be relentlessly normal and polite when you fly. Especially if you look Middle Eastern. Even if you graduated from Stanford.

There’s other interesting stuff in here too, especially toward the end. It’s a bit unusual to see this degree of perturbation about a trial court’s handling of its business. Including, in a final footnote, stating that certain evidence allowed by the trial judge was not relevant. That happens from time to time in state courts here in Massachusetts. But it’s rare in the First Circuit.

Finally, thanks to an unnamed McCain supporter who might as well just live in New Hampshire for flagging this case.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bench slaps were definite and intended -- I think the First Circuit was telling a certain district court judge to focus more on being a fair judge and less on being perceived as a fair judge.

-- The Unnamed McCain Supporter Who Might As Well Just Live in New Hampshire