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Cerqueira v. American Airlines

In this civil rights case, we challenged an airline’s denial of service to a passenger. Public Citizen, together with private co-counsel, represented the passenger who was removed from an American Airlines flight and denied further transportation services. The passenger alleged that American Airlines discriminated against him because the airline mistakenly believed that he was of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent. The passenger sought damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and M.G.L. c. 272, § 98.

This case went to jury trial in early January 2007, and on January 12, 2007, the jury decided in our favor, awarding our client $400,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. American Airlines appealed the decision. On January 10, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a decision vacating the jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff. We filed a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court, and it was denied.