In a decision yesterday, Magistrate Judge Pitman denied summary judgment to Spirit Airlines, which was sued by a pro se passenger who claims to have been improperly booted off a flight for having ignored the exit row briefing.

Judge Pitman noted that the “parties’ versions of the material events are substantially different.”  According to Spirit, the passenger refused to hang up his cell phone when the briefing started, and then became combative.  According to the passenger, he was texting, but stopped when asked.  It was the flight crew that became combative, he claims, and so he left the plane because he was “afraid.”
Continue Reading Judge Pitman: Passenger Booted Off Plane, Allegedly for Ignoring Exit Row Briefing, Can Proceed to Trial of Breach of Contract Case

In an opinion Tuesday, Judge Seibel lambasted, but ultimately did not sanction, attorneys in an insurance dispute who made evasive and false assertions in a Rule 56.1 statement submitted in opposition to summary judgment.  She found the statements lacked a “factual basis,” and were a “sham,” and added that the attorneys’ conduct “was entirely unbecoming of members of our profession.”  She nonetheless concluded “in light of the high standard for bad faith, and the caution with which courts should approach the question of bad faith,” not to award sanctions, for two reasons:
Continue Reading Judge Seibel Nearly Sanctions Attorneys for “Sham” Responses to Rule 56.1 Opposition Statement

Yesterday, Judge Sweet found that there was sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment regarding allegations that Bear Stearns hid material information about its lack of liquidity and other problems during the financial crisis.  He rejected the defendants’ argument that the supposedly hidden risks were “publicly known as a result of Bear Stearns’ disclosures”:

Defendants’ opposition and cited disclosures demonstrate textbook disputes of material fact sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.

For example, both Plaintiff and Defendants point to a disclosure stating “inability to raise money in the long- term or short- term debt markets, or to engage in repurchase agreements or securities lending, could have a substantial negative effect on [Bear Stearns’ ] liquidity. ” Defendants frame this as sufficient disclosure to alert Plaintiff to risks, defeating the possibility of a misstatement or omission. Plaintiff emphasizes that Defendants disclosed only the possibility but not the certainty that Bear Stearns was already experiencing negative pressure as a result of its reliance on repo financing.  . . .

“Nothing short of a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving part y’s case will be sufficient to award summary judgment.” Celotex Corp . v . Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The disclosures Bear has identified are not so forthright and comprehensive that it can be said no dispute of material fact exists.


Continue Reading Judge Sweet: Allegations of Bear Stearns’ Material Omissions Before Its Collapse Survive Summary Judgment

In the ongoing civil litigation against Madoff feeder fund Fairfield Greenwich and others (see our previous coverage here), Judge Marrero took the unusual step yesterday of denying Standard Chartered’s request for a pre-motion conference for their contemplated summary judgment motion.  Standard Chartered had argued that a summary judgment motion was appropriate on a number