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Op-Ed

In-flight entertainment

August 22, 2022

Pilots must get bored on long flights, but maybe they shouldn't play tricks on stewardesses. Also, you can lose by winning and sexual assault is not part of military duty.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

I’ve never flown a plane so I may be getting this wrong, but it seems to me that long flights day after day could get boring. Pilots need to stay awake so there ought to be some form of entertainment.

For example, check out the scenario described in a recent federal court ruling in Arizona. A flight attendant reported to the cockpit during a Southwest Airlines Company flight from Pittsburgh to Phoenix and saw something unexpected: an iPad showing one of the pilots in the lavatory.

The other pilot told the stewardess that this was “a new, secret Southwest security measure.”

For some reason, this did not make the flight attendant feel more secure. She and some other flight attendants then searched the lavatories but couldn’t find a camera. Then they complained to management and “Southwest directed plaintiff and the Flight 1088 flight attendants not to talk to anybody about what happened on Flight 1088.”

Litigation ensued.

Here’s my favorite part: “Plaintiff’s Fifth (!!) Amended Complaint alleges that one of two scenarios occurred on Flight 1088: that defendants Graham and Russell either installed a hidden camera in the forward lavatory of Flight 1088, or that the Defendant Graham recorded a video of himself in a lavatory months before Flight 1088, which he then played on his iPad in the cockpit of Flight 1088 in collaboration with Defendant Russell, to make Plaintiff believe that she and others had been watched and recorded in the lavatory.”

If it’s the second thing, those pilots were seriously bored.

The court ruled that the incident didn’t amount to a hostile work environment, so the plaintiff technically lost but she also kind of won if she knows how to use the Internet because the judge called the pilots “juvenile, crude and unprofessional” and said Southwest “prioritized its reputation and its pilots over the safety of its crew members and passengers.”

That’s the kind of quote Twitter is for.

Pyrrhic victory. If you’re trying to avoid being served, should you show up in court?

The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has thrown out a default judgment against a guy in Florida who “evaded personal service for months.” So the frustrated lawyer who was suing him for legal fees resorted to publishing a notice of his suit — in the wrong county.

Oops.

Victory for the elusive defendant?

Here’s the last sentence of the ruling: “On remand, the district court, in its discretion, may consider whether to extend the time limit for service for good cause on account of Humphries’s flagrant evasion of service.”

This is how to lose when winning.

Stating the obvious. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has issued a 41-page ruling in a case involving an alleged sexual assault on an Air Force Colonel by an Air Force general at a hotel that maybe could have been a tad shorter.

It boils down to this: “(O)ne would be hard pressed to conclude that a tortious sexual assault is in any way incident to ‘a decision requiring military expertise and judgment.’ Frankly, it would be a highly unusual circumstance when a sexual assault consisting of the facts alleged by (the colonel) would further any conceivable military purpose and thus be considered incident to military service.”

Umm … duh?

Someone must have noticed this before the ruling was published because the “conclusion” at the end includes this: “(O)ne might question why we engaged in this painstaking analysis to reach the conclusion that the alleged sexual assault that occurred here was not an activity ‘incident to service.’”

One might.

The court claimed it didn’t want to be superficial. Just obvious, I guess.

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