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The American Airlines suit against Sabre, which had been scheduled to start October 24, in a Texas state court was thrown a curveball Monday when the judge overseeing the case recused himself.
An initial report says the judge in Tarrant County, Texas, recused himself because American Airlines had contributed some bicycles to an orphanage, which counted the judge as a director.
But now American fires back that Sabre and its counsel contributed to the same charity, as well.
This must be one, well-connected orphanage.
“The evidence at the hearing reflected that Sabre and its counsel are supporters of the same charity, as well,” an American Airlines spokesperson says. “In making his ruling, the presiding judge stressed that the ruling was not based on any evidence of actual impropriety. American wishes to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifice of Judge [Don] Cosby and his staff, and we look forward to starting trial on schedule with the new trial judge to be appointed promptly by the presiding judge.”
The American Airlines spokesperson provided additional background: “On Monday, the presiding judge of the Eighth Administrative Judicial Region in Texas state court granted a motion filed by Sabre to recuse Judge Donald Cosby, the current trial judge, who had presided over American’s state court case against Sabre since it was filed in 2011. According to the presiding judge, the ruling was to avoid any appearance of impropriety in light of donations by American to a Fort Worth charity for which Judge Cosby is a director.”
Meanwhile, Sabre, too, issued a statement on the matter. Sabre states:
“The only donation Sabre has made since American Airlines’ filed its lawsuit in 2011 was a donation of less than $15 to match an employee’s donation to the Lena Pope Home as part of our Give Together program. Through this effort, Sabre encourages employees to give to organizations they support by offering matching donations. Over the past five years, Sabre employees located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area have volunteered at or contributed funds to nearly 530 different organizations. All other Sabre-related donations to the Lena Pope Home occurred prior to 2003.”
The trial, slated to begin October 24, should last about two months.
UPDATE: An American Airline spokesperson says a new judge has been assigned to the case, Judge David Cleveland, and the antitrust case is slated to kick off tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. local time.