• Appellate court blasts defendants’ ploy Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Iftikhar Nazir, a Muslim who an emigrated from Pakistan, suffered years of racial epithets and ethnic jokes at his expense during his 16 years working for United Airlines.

    Nazir rose to the level of supervisor of mechanics, but was fired in 2005, and sued United alleging harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

    Superior Court Judge Marie S. Wiener dismissed the case by granting United’s summary judgment motion. Summary judgments are actions taken by trial judges to dispose of cases before they reach juries based upon judges’ findings that the case lacks any merit.

    Summary judgments are praised for eliminating frivolous cases and for making the judicial process more efficient.  Critics say they’re too often granted expeditiously and reward “deep pocket defendants” who can overwhelm a less well-funded plaintiff.

    In a decision written by Justice James A. Richman, the appellate court reversed the summary judgment motion, and expressed no small amount of irritation. The court called the defense’s motion a “poster child” for abuse, noting United filed 1,056 pages and that case “may well be the most oppressive motion ever presented to a superior court.”

    The justices also said Wiener criticized the length and substance of the plaintiff’s brief. “Curiously, no such criticism was leveled at defendants’ papers, not even those in reply, papers that defy description.”

    In reversing the trial court, the appellate court said that United “attempted to hide important issues of material importance,”  and that the court failed to consider evidence appropriately in the employee’s favor. Iftikhar Nazir v. United Airlines, Inc., Court of Appeal 1st Dist Div. 2 (A121651)

    –Steve Ingram

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