Audrey Hudson, of the Washington Times, reports this morning:
A federal court yesterday accepted a request by a group of Muslim imams to drop all claims in a federal lawsuit against unspecified “John Doe” passengers for reporting the men’s suspicious behavior, which led to their removal from a US Airways flight last year. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota was amended to “hereby dismiss possible defendants ‘John Does’ as set forth in … the first amended complaint as parties from this action,” said the notice of dismissal. The lawsuit still targets US Airways and Minneapolis airport workers.
Gerry Nolting, a lawyer who represents one of the unnamed “John Doe” passengers, said the dismissal demonstrates the imams’ case did not hold water and that the passengers “were doing nothing but their important duty as airline travelers to report suspicious behavior to the appropriate authorities.” “Hopefully, this will encourage all airline travelers to continue to be the eyes and ears of the FAA and report suspicious behavior,” Mr. Nolting said.
The lawsuit had said that “plaintiffs are unaware of the true names and capacities of defendants sued herein as John Does and therefore sue said defendants by such fictitious names. Plaintiffs will … amend this complaint to allege true names, capacities, and circumstances supporting the liability of said defendants” after finding out that information. Passengers and the flight crew said the men were disruptive and did not take their assigned seats and formed a pattern similar to the September 11 hijackers. Some of the men asked for seat-belt extensions they did not need, criticized the war in Iraq and President Bush and talked about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
The Becket Fund, a legal advocacy group that pursues religious freedom cases, demanded that the passengers be dropped from the suit and announced it would represent for free any passengers who were identified and formally named.
“Better late than never,” said Kevin J. Hasson, the group’s president. “They should never have sued the John Does in the first place, and they should have dismissed them long before now, but at last they have finally done the right thing.