(CN) – The Ninth Circuit seemed unlikely Wednesday to revive claims from a JetBlue passenger whose refusal to delete cellphone video of the flight that landed her in handcuffs.
Of the three-judge panel that looked at the case this morning in San Francisco, only Judge Kim Wardlaw seemed sympathetic to the passenger.
Quoting one of Marilyn Parver’s arresting officers, Wardlaw said police took the 56-year-old into custody despite telling JetBlue agents at the gate that “this is America, there’s no law against videotaping.”
“What really troubles me about this case,” Wardlaw said, is that Parver was humiliated and put in handcuffs to face several hours of questioning.
“This seems really wrong to me, as a frequent flyer myself,” Wardlaw added.
A resident of Arizona, Parver brought the complaint in question over a flight she took from New York to Las Vegas in July 2008.
She claimed flight attendants were miffed at her for filming an onboard dustup, and filed a false report with the Las Vegas police to get her arrested when the plane landed.
As memorialized on YouTube, Parver’s footgage caught a flight’s attendant yelling at a passenger to “take a sleeping pill and go to sleep!”
The airline told police meanwhile that Parver was drunk and had filmed “security or control” features of the plane.
More sympathetic to the police, Wardlaw’s colleagues focused on the right of police to handle a passenger who may be endangering the lives of 160-plus other passengers on the plane.
“You have a situation here where they don’t know what the extent of an issue,” Judge Margaret McKeown said.”
“Someone has told them there’s a safety issue,” the judge added. “As far as the officers are concerned they have an obligation” to interview Parver and find out what happened.
Personal-injury attorney J. Hans Barcus meanwhile emphasized that it was clear right away that Parver posed no threat.
“This is not a gun or a knife, it’s a video,” the named partner with the Texas firm Cantrell, Ray & Barcus said.
Judge Richard Tallman scoffed that the officers had been ready to let Parver leave unescorted before she escalated the situation.
“Well, she clearly was given the opportunity to go,” Tallman said. “And as I read the record, she basically talked herself into jail by telling her, ‘I’m not leaving.” And he said, ‘Then I’m going to arrest you,’ and she said, ‘Fine. Arrest me.’
“Click, click,” Tallman said with exasperation. “OK, off we go.”
Tallman and McKeown scoffed at the claim that Barcus had a right to challenge her treatment because the airline had threatened to put her on the no-fly list.
“What gives her a legal right to say, ‘I need to conduct my investigation,” McKeown asked.
Arguing for JetBlue, Leader & Berkon attorney Arthur Wilner said police took control of the situation when they came onboard the plane and then followed their own procedures. “Essentially when the police come on board, JetBlue’s role is, ‘that’s the person.'”
“There’s no evidence in the record that the JetBlue crew directed the police to ‘go arrest her,'” Wilner added.
Wilner earned a kick of sass at the hearing when denied having seen Parver’s video.
“Well I have, it’s on YouTube,” Judge Wardlaw said.
Lyssa Anderson, an attorney for the Las Vegas police department with the firm Kaempfer Crowell Renshaw Gronauer & Fiorentino , said the officers acted reasonably “to keep the situation safe” without knowing what the circumstances of the pilot’s call were until they got there.
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