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Jury Awards $400K Verdict To “Profiling Victim”

From the Boston Herald:

Pilots blast court’s ‘outrageous’ verdict: Defend ejection of suspicious passenger

By Laurel J. Sweet
Tuesday, January 16, 2007

American Airlines’ pilots union is calling “outrageous” a precedent-setting jury verdict punishing the carrier for ejecting a passenger a flight crew deemed suspicious.

“Pilots have not forgotten” 9/11, said Capt. Denny Breslin, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association. “It’s a sad day when you lose to political correctness.”

In the first post-9/11 case of its kind to reach trial, a federal jury in Boston awarded $400,000 to a Portuguese computer consultant on Friday for being profiled as a potential terrorist by an American Airlines [AMR] flight crew headed to Fort Lauderdale from Logan International Airport on Dec. 28, 2003.

John Cerqueira, 39, who grew up in Fall River, was escorted off the jet at Logan by state police and questioned for two hours before he was released.

But Breslin, 57, who flies 250-passenger Boeing 777s for American, is standing by fellow flyboy Capt. John Ehlers, who – based on what Ehlers described in a written report as “inappropriate, suspicious comments” – made the call to deplane Cerqueira and two Israeli men seated next to him.

“He did what any one of us would have done, especially back in ’03,” Breslin said. “We’re human beings, not mind-readers. What would (the plaintiff) have us do? Ignore our concerns?”

Ehlers, 45, of Concord declined to comment yesterday.

The incident happened two years after two American and two United jets were commandeered by Muslim terrorists Sept. 11, 2001, to attack and murder in New York City and Washington.

Among the nearly 3,000 people killed was Peter Gay, 54, of Tewksbury, a passenger on American Flight 11 hijacked out of Boston.

Gay’s brother, Taunton attorney David Gay, 61, said today’s pilots are “in a tough situation,” treading between playing it safe and getting hauled into court.

“I know people have civil rights and I’m not trying to take them away, but somebody’s got to make these decisions,” Gay said. “I’d rather they err in that direction and have the plane land safely.”

Pete Janhunen, a Westminster native and now spokesman for the 60,000-member Air Line Pilots Association, said the Federal Aviation Administration empowers captains with full “authority” over their aircraft.

“The pilot in command is responsible for everything that happens involving that flight,” Janhunen said. “We need to ensure that the authority of the captain is protected so that they’re never intimidated or afraid to make the right call.”

Who knew it was a "civil right" to fly on American Airlines? If so, why do we have to buy tickets? Wouldn’t they be denying us our right by refusing to transport us without a ticket?

So much for an airline’s right to refuse service to whomever it pleases. And so much for airport screening.

And $400,000? For a missed flight?

This guarantees that there will be more copycats hoping to hit the ACLU/CAIR lawsuit lottery. Just like the "Flying Imams."

Good thing there isn’t a war on.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, January 17th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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