City: Bus driver didn't discriminate

City attorney wants court to throw out lawsuit filed by Arab-American woman

Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2003

Juneau's city attorney has sought dismissal of a lawsuit claiming the city and its bus system has discriminated against an Arab-American woman since a March 2002 incident involving a candy bar.

"She cannot show a deliberate and intentional plan to discriminate based on some unjustifiable or arbitrary classification," City Attorney John Hartle wrote in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Jamila Glauber.

Glauber, represented by Anchorage attorney Jay W. Trumble, claims she suffered severe emotional distress from actions that were based on her race, as an Arab, and national origin. Glauber emigrated from Yemen, in the Middle East.

The lawsuit, filed in July, claims that Glauber is among a class of people protected by the Alaska Human Rights Act, a position Hartle disputes. He is representing all of the defendants - the city, Capital Transit and bus driver Tad Zurek.

The suit has its origins in a March 22, 2002, bus ride.

Glauber was riding the bus from the University of Alaska Southeast to Harborview Elementary School to pick up her son. She later told the Empire that she unwrapped a small Snickers bar and took a bite.

After the driver told her that eating on the bus was prohibited, she finished it with the second bite. According to her account, the bus driver stopped twice and told her to get off, and she twice refused. At Nugget Mall, the bus driver waited for police, who asked the driver to continue to let her ride.

The suit alleges that Capital Transit's "extreme and outrageous actions" have denied her "reasonable access to public transportation by denying her reasonable treatment." She claimed that she has feared for her safety and the safety of her son when she attempts to use public transportation, and she is denied "privileges and services equal to those afforded by other patrons."

The suit seeks "in excess of $50,000" from each defendant, with actual damages to be determined at trial. It also asks for the defendants to stop harassing and discriminating against her. It does not detail continued instances of alleged discrimination and harassment.

In Hartle's response, filed last week, he argues that the complaint "fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

Furthermore, he argues, the "alleged damages were caused in whole or part by plaintiff's own actions." He also argues that the court lacks jurisdiction in the case, and that the law gives the defendants immunity from such claims.

In addition to asking Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins to dismiss the suit, Hartle is seeking costs that the city will incur in its defense.

Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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