Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Define reasonable

In summarizing the events that led up to the men's removal from the November 2006 flight from Minnesota to Phoenix, the judge wrote that "it is dubious that these facts would lead a reasonable person to conclude that plaintiffs were about to interfere with the crew of Flight 300."

Well, let's see.

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by a group of imams against US Airways and a Minneapolis airport can proceed.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery said in a 41-page opinion late yesterday that the imams, who say they were discriminated against when they were removed from a flight last year, have a plausible claim that their constitutional rights may have been violated.

The imams "have adequately stated a claim" that airport police may have "seized plaintiffs in violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures," Judge Montgomery ruled.

"This preliminary victory shows that any American can have a day in court," said Omar Mohammedi, attorney for the imams.

"The case is about civil rights violations and constitutional principles that we all cherish. Our judicial system has always been, and will remain, the hope for all minorities who seek to redress civil rights violations," Mr. Mohammedi said.

However, the judge dismissed two of the imams' complaints. The imams had argued that they suffered from emotional distress as a result of the incident, and one of the imams said he was discriminated against because he is blind.

US Airways says the captain's decision to remove the men from the flight "was not arbitrary and capricious" but that he relied on a passenger's note saying the men had made anti-American comments and sat in a "dispersed seating arrangement" and on a flight attendant's observation that two of the imams "had asked for seat-belt extensions, but only one seemed to need one." Passenger records also indicated that three of the men were flying on one-way tickets.

Now, knowing what I know, if I observed all this, would I believe out of caution that these guys should be removed from the flight?

One way tickets, and the unused seat extension(s) would do the trick, in combination.

USAIR was right.

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