Case Over No-Fly List Ordeal Advanced in NJ

     (CN) – A JetBlue contractor must face claims from a Muslim family kicked off a plane because their baby’s name was supposedly on a no-fly list, a federal judge ruled.
     Ramsey Abdallah and Ghadeer Abbasi say the nightmare began when they checked in at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport with their baby, Riyanna, on May 10, 2012, for a JetBlue flight to Newark Liberty International.
     The New Jersey residents had already boarded the plane when JetBlue employees allegedly removed an unrelated Muslim couple with a young child from the flight.
     A JetBlue supervisor then told the Abdallah and Abbasi – in a voice audible to other passengers – that they “needed to leave” the plane because officials with the Transportation Security Administration wanted to speak with them, according to the complaint.
     The agent allegedly said Riyanna, then 18 months old, was on the TSA’s no-fly list.
     Though JetBlue claimed to be following standard procedure prompted by the TSA, Abdallah and Abbasi say the supervisor’s lack of professionalism led passengers to make comments about and to Abdallah and his family.
     Broward County Sheriffs met the family outside the gate “in full visibility of other airline passengers, some of whom began to photograph the plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
     As they waited for TSA and complied with JetBlue’s directives for the next 45 minutes, the couple says they had no indication that they could “leave the gate, use the restroom, or use other airport facilities.”
     The family says TSA finally told them they were free to reboard, but they declined. In addition to failing to remove the couple’s bags from the flight, JetBlue blamed a “computer glitch” for the incident, the family says.
     Abdallah and Abbasi say TSA maintains that it had not flagged Riyanna on the “no-fly” list.
     If JetBlue’s actions resulted from erroneous information on their computers, then the software provider – Sabre Airline Solutions – is also directly at fault, according to the family’s complaint.
     U.S. District Judge Jose Linares preserved claims against Sabre in an unpublished decision on June 8.
     “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that they are members of a racial minority and that Sabre intended to discriminate on the basis of [plaintiff’s] race by flagging passengers who have a last name of Arab origin with the intention of treating plaintiffs in a manner different than those passengers not of Arab descent,” Linares wrote. “Here, there is no ‘obvious alternative explanation’ for the facts alleged in plaintiffs’ complaint.”
     Linares advanced the family’s Title VI discrimination claim as well, based on the showing that Sabre receives federal funds, plus their claim for false imprisonment and that they “were detained as a direct result of Sabre’s unlawfully discriminatory software.”
     Though the judge tossed aside the ambiguous “failure to train and supervise” claim, and JetBlue’s cross-claims against Sabre, the parties have 30 days to refile these claims.
     Sabre Airline Solutions, which provides software for about 225 airlines, reportedly reaped over $2.63 billion in revenue last year, and $710 million in the first quarter of 2015.
     Courthouse News is awaiting comment from the defendants at this time.

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