United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant JetBlue Airways
Corporation (“JetBlue”)'s Motion for Summary
Judgment. Dkt. #52. Plaintiff Abdikarim Karrani opposes
JetBlue's Motion in entirety. Dkt. #69. The Court has
determined that oral argument is not necessary. Having
reviewed the Motion, Plaintiff's Response,
Defendant's Reply, and all documents submitted in support
thereof, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary
claims that JetBlue discriminated against him on the basis of
his race, national origin, and/or ethnicity under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981 by wrongfully removing him from an airline
flight. Mr. Karrani is an 81-year-old U.S. citizen born in
Somalia who now resides in Washington state. On January 20,
2018, Mr. Karrani was returning home on JetBlue Flight 263
from New York bound for Seattle when a medical emergency
occurred in Row 1. Dkt. #53-2 at 5. The medical emergency
required the plane to make an emergency landing in Billings,
Montana shortly thereafter. During the plane's descent
into Billings, Mr. Karrani-whose age and diabetic condition
causes him to experience sudden and urgent needs to use the
restroom-attempted to use the lavatory at the front of the
plane and found it occupied by another passenger. Dkt. #53-7
at 4. After shutting the door, Mr. Karrani proceeded to stand
outside the bathroom. Noticing Mr. Karrani waiting next to
the restroom, JetBlue flight attendant Cynthia (i.e. Cindy)
Pancerman approached to direct him to the back lavatory.
precise details of what happened between Ms. Pancerman and
Mr. Karrani remain a dispute of fact. Ms. Pancerman claims
that she attempted to guide Mr. Karrani towards the back
lavatory and, in response, Mr. Karrani hit her. Dkt. #68-1 at
50-51. Mr. Karrani, in contrast, claims that Ms. Pancerman
initiated physical contact by pushing him towards the back
and, startled and anxious, he attempted to brush her hand off
him. Dkt. #53-7 at 5. According to Mr. Karrani, Ms. Pancerman
did not say anything else to him except: “Go to the
back one.” Id. After this interaction, Mr.
Karrani proceeded to the back of the plane to use the back
lavatory. It is undisputed that the plane's captain,
Captain Mitchell Ouillette, was not a witness to the event.
the plane's final descent into Billings, the pilots in
the cockpit-Captain Ouillette and co-pilot Michael
Cheney-received a call from Ms. Pancerman. While the parties
dispute what details Ms. Pancerman provided to the pilots
regarding her interaction with Mr. Karrani, it is undisputed
that during the plane's final approach into Billings, a
call was made from the cockpit requesting law enforcement to
meet the airplane upon landing. Dkt. #68-1 at 10-11. Once the
plane landed, airport police boarded the plane and escorted
Mr. Karrani off the plane. Dkt. #53-7 at 6.
interviewing witnesses, airport police officer Randy Winkley
issued an incident report and determined that he would not
charge Mr. Karrani with assault. Dkt. #68-1 at 106, 116.
However, Captain Ouillette did not allow Mr. Karrani to
re-board the flight. Id. at 111. As a result, while
the remaining passengers were transported to Seattle, Mr.
Karrani was driven by police to a hotel in Billings to stay
overnight. The next day, he purchased a new flight on Delta
from Billings to Seattle which JetBlue did not refund, even
after he reported his ordeal to a JetBlue supervisor at
Seattle Tacoma airport. Dkt. #1 at 5. On October 15, 2018,
Mr. Karrani filed this lawsuit. JetBlue now seeks summary
judgment on Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1981 on the basis that Mr. Karrani has not raised a triable
issue of fact that his removal from Flight 263 was because of
his race, ethnicity, or national origin.
Plaintiff's Request for Judicial Notice
preliminary matter, Plaintiff requests that this Court take
judicial notice of several documents published by the U.S.
Department of Transportation (“DOT”).
See Dkt. #60. Specifically, Plaintiff requests
judicial notice of two DOT guidance documents related to
passenger discrimination in air travel, see Dkt.
#60-1 at 4-15, and four Consent Orders issued by DOT against
domestic airline carriers for discriminatory removal of
minority passengers from aircrafts, see Dkt. #60-1
at 16-35. Federal Rule of Evidence 201 provides that courts
may take judicial notice of adjudicative facts
“generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of
the trial court” or “capable of accurate and
ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy
cannot reasonably be questioned.” Jespersen v.
Harrah's Operating Co., Inc., 444 F.3d 1104, 1110
(9th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 201) (internal
quotations omitted). JetBlue does not dispute that the
records at issue are self-authenticating pursuant to
Fed.R.Evid. 902(5), Dkt. #66 at 2, so the remaining issue is
whether the documents are a proper subject of judicial
request the Court take judicial notice with respect to the
existence of these materials-specifically, that DOT has
issued non-binding policy guidance that airlines may use to
prevent discrimination against passengers, and that DOT has
adjudicated various claims against airlines alleging
discriminatory removal. See Interstate Nat. Gas Co. v. S.
California Gas Co., 209 F.2d 380, 385 (9th Cir.1953) (A
court “may take judicial notice of records and reports
of administrative bodies.”). While JetBlue opposes
judicial notice of these materials, its opposition chiefly
addresses what inferences and conclusions the Court may draw
from their contents. Whether to take judicial notice in the
first instance is a separate inquiry from how the Court may
rely on the contents of the documents. Accordingly, the Court
grants Plaintiff's request.
Parties' Motions to Strike
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) and Local Rule 7(g), Plaintiff and
JetBlue move to strike various documents on the grounds that
a court may not consider improper lay opinions,
unauthenticated documents, or inadmissible hearsay statements
on summary judgment. Dkt. #69 at 16; Dkt. #72 at 10-11.
Because the Court does not ...