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Katt & Katt Obtain Summary Judgment for Major Airline in Discrimination Case

September 6, 2018

William Katt (Partner-Milwaukee) and Christina Katt (Associate-Milwaukee) representing a major airline obtained a summary judgment dismissal of a plaintiff's racial discrimination claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. The passenger alleged that he was discriminated against on the basis of his race when the airline removed him from the flight for leaving his seat to use the lavatory twice, against flight crew orders and while the plane was taking off. The Court found that there was no direct evidence of discrimination because the pilot was the sole decision maker under FAA regulations and had no knowledge of the passenger's race. The Court also held there was no indirect evidence of discrimination, as the evidence of the alleged comparator passengers was not admissible, did not involve similarly situated passengers, and did not show evidence of racial animus. Furthermore, the airline's actions were taken for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory purpose − to follow FAA safety regulations. This is an important win for our client as the initial incident received national publicity, and comes at a time when airlines are dealing with many passenger complaints and social media posts. The flight crew handled the matter "by the book" and the court dismissed the matter.

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