Friday, February 23, 2007


According to a recent account provided by The Indiana Jury Verdict Reporter, on December 28, 2003, 39 -year-old John Cerqueira boarded an American Airlines flight in Boston. The flight was bound for Fort Lauderdale from Logan International Airport. Cerqueira, although originally a native of Portugal, is now a U.S. citizen. He is dark-complected, and is said to have a Middle Eastern appearance.

Mr. Cerqueira boarded the flight alone, and took his seat. He happened to be seated next to two gentlemen who were Israeli citizens. He then went to the lavatory. After returning to his seat, he briefly turned on his computer, then turned it off, and went to sleep. Minutes later, he was awakened and escorted off of the plane by the flight crew and turned over to police. The two Israeli passengers were also escorted off of the airplane.

It turns out that Mr. Cerqueira and the two Israeli passengers were removed from the flight because the flight crew and its captain suspected them of being terrorists. They were suspected because of the fact that they had Middle Eastern appearances, conversed in a foreign language, and had made lengthy visits to the restroom. In fact, they were not terrorists.

After being removed from the flight, Mr. Cerqueira was interrogated by police officers for several hours until it was determined that he was not a terrorist. After he was cleared by the police, Mr. Cerqueira attempted to get a seat on another American Airlines flight, but the airline still refused to accommodate him.

Mr. Cerqueira subsequently filed a lawsuit against the airline, claiming that he had been the recipient of improper discrimination simply because of his Middle Eastern appearance. His attorneys demanded both compensatory and punitive damages on his behalf.

In defense, American Airlines claimed that it had acted properly under the circumstances. It noted Mr. Cerqueira's allegedly long restroom break, his presence with the two other passengers, and his reportedly strange reaction to exit row instructions as factors that justified its actions.

The case went before a jury in Boston. After hearing all of the evidence, the jury ruled in favor of Mr. Cerqueira. It awarded him $130,00 in compensatory damages, and $270,000 more in punitives, for a total verdict of $400,000.

This case should provide a lesson for us all. It is all too easy to judge a book by its cover. While it may be understandable, in the post-911 world, that we are all a bit uneasy and at times fearful, we must be cautious to insure that the rights of some are not abridged because of those fears.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Our trip to Annapolis was a fabulous one. I was completely blown away by the awesome beauty of the campus--or "the yard" as it is called--and the place thoroughly impresses with its evident history and tradition. Located along the scenic Chesapeake Bay, the United States Naval Academy is a 338-acre complex that houses a brigade of some 4,200 midshipmen. It is a truly impressive venue.
Once we arrived at the academy, Brendan was assigned to a first-year midshipman (called a "plebe"), who acted as his host for the next couple of days. My son stayed in the dorm (majestic Bancroft Hall) with his host, and also ate meals and went to classes with him. Brendan sat in on four classes: calculus, chemistry, English literature and naval history. He found the classes to be interesting and exciting.
Although the facility at the Naval Academy is massive, the class sizes are small--usually no more than twenty students per class. The quality of the education provided there is second to none.
On Friday evening, Brendan was able to attend an on-campus social event that was put on for the plebes and their candidate visitors. He was thoroughly impressed with the experience, and he hopes to become a member of the brigade of midshipmen next year.
One point of clarification is in order. In my last post, I indicated that Brendan had received an "appointment" to the academy. My terminology on that point was incorrect. In fact, he has received a "nomination" to the academy--two of them in fact, from Senator Evan Bayh and the former congressman Mike Sodrel--and is still awaiting formal acceptance, which is what the term "appointment" actually refers to. I apologize for my confusion on that point. In any event, we remain cautiously optimistic that Brendan will be invited to become a student at the United States Naval Academy next year. Here is the web site for the academy:
Happy sailing, mates!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Time for an adventure! Tomorrow, I will be leaving for a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. My son, Brendan, has received an appointment to become a midshipman there, and we have been afforded a final opportunity to check it out before he commits. Although Brendan spent a week in Annapolis last summer, it will be my first opportunity to see the place for myself. I understand that it is quite an impressive campus, and I am looking forward to to seeing it. Perhaps I will report back after I have been there....Skoal!

Here is a photo of Brendan: