Dr. Lukács goes to Ottawa (op-ed)

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

 

Yesterday, Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, went to Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa to present his arguments in the case Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (SCC case summary & factums). Dr. Lukács is a respondent for this case because he won in the Federal Court of Appeal (CBC news) in September 2016. And then Delta won the right to appeal that FCA ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2017. (note: you can watch the hearing webcast video archive (~3 hours) to get a closer look.)

As Dr. Lukács put it in the 2016 CBC news interview,

“The underlying issue is, can you stand up for your neighbour? For the weak? For those who may already be disadvantaged in some way in society?

I first interviewed Dr. Lukács in August 2013 for the video report and article “Halifax mathematician gets bumped Air Canada passengers $200, $400, or $800 compensation“. During this 4+ years, I’m still amazed that a regular Canadian non-lawyer (math professor/researcher by training) has volunteered so much of his free time in helping others. And sometimes even risking being sued (and actually being) by airlines which have teams of lawyers and money.

To me, it was great to be able to video interview Dr. Lukács right inside the Supreme Court gown room where lawyers prepare their formal court attires. At the end of the hearing yesterday, it was nice to see lawyers from both sides and Dr. Lukács shook hands. I believe parties from both sides can violently disagree with each others’ ideas and submissions but it is nice to be civil after arguments are heard.

Over four years later, I still find the following 2013 answers given by Dr. Lukács very illuminating and insightful of why he spend so much of his free time in helping the Canadian flying public,

“Upon hearing the interviewer suggesting this delay compensation [$200, $400, $800 from Air Canada] should be named after Lukács, similar to mathematical theorems were named after Euclid or Gauss, Lukács paused to think for a moment and then thoughtfully insisted that,

“… it doesn’t matter where it was me or somebody else who got those [air passenger] rights. What is important [is] that those rights are put in place. And that people will now have better treatment. It doesn’t matter it was me, or my neighbour, or my friend or you, or that person in another city who made those changes. For me, it’s a question of I’ve learned enough about airlines to know that something are just wrong and against the law. And when I happened to see that, like in the case of what happened in Ottawa airport, I cannot just walk by and do nothing. I feel a responsibility.

Knowledge gives some responsibility. When you know that something is wrong, and you have quite a good idea of how to fix it, that does impose on you some level of moral responsibility, social responsibility. And so the issue of air passenger rights needs a face in Canada. I don’t see myself as a full-time passenger rights advocate, I am a mathematician after all. But certainly, I know that I am able to bring, through the agency, to the Canadian public some prospectives & arguments that benefit everybody. So I do it.””

Concluding thoughts

For years, I’ve gained inspirations from this one particular quote I LOVE“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” by Margaret Mead.

Seeing what Dr. Lukács has been trying to achieve by himself, it seems to me we sometimes doesn’t even need “a small group … people“. At times, all we need is one person to try to make a difference for the better in our increasingly perilous world. Do what each of us can, in the best way we know how. Success is never guaranteed but we and no one else can blame ourselves after we try the hardest we can.

P.S. Have a watch again of the action inside the Supreme Court yesterday.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Questions during Supreme Court case with Delta

P.P.S. I’ve always found the political comedy-drama “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington“, a film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system, insightful and illuminating. As I get older, I find I’m not naive enough to ignore the bad but I’m more willing & eager to look for the good each and everyone of us can do in our own area of interest and competence.

There is no reason you or I can’t be our own “Mr. Smith”, “Dr. Lukács”, … and going to our own “Washington”, “Ottawa”, … which to me stands for ideals we strive to achieve.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Speech

P.P.P.S. Speaking about theorems being named after mathematicians, I still hope Dr. Lukács’ Air Passenger Rights work won’t slow down his mathematics research as I hope to see a math theorem bearing his name one of these days.

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Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács – Supreme Court of Canada hearing webcast video archive

Thursday, 5 October, 2017

Supreme Court of Canada has made the hearing webcast video archive (all ~3 hours) of Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács (summary, parties, factums) – available to watch online.

Also have a watch (with video) of my previous reports
* “Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview post “Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács” Supreme Court case oral arguments
* “Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview in advance of Supreme Court case with Delta Air Lines


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview post “Delta Air Lines Inc. v. Gábor Lukács” Supreme Court case oral arguments

Wednesday, 4 October, 2017

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview at Supreme Court post Dr. Gábor Lukács' oral arguments - thumbnail

Dr. Gábor Lukács, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, presented his oral arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada for the first time. Have a watch of a video clip of Justice Russell Brown asking Dr. Gábor Lukács questions during the Supreme Court hearing.

Justice Russell Brown asks Dr. Gábor Lukács Qs during Supreme Court case with Delta

The following is an interview with Dr. Lukacs soon after the hearing finished while he was still at the Supreme Court of Canada when everything were still fresh in his mind. Some linked timecodes and rough notes are included but all notes are rough, and the video is the real authority of what were said.

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview at Supreme Court post Dr. Gábor Lukács’ oral arguments

0:00 Reporter Kempton Lam (KL) thanks Dr. Gabor Lukacs (GL) for doing the interview. GL talks about where he is located.
0:30 [KL:] How do you feel right now after appearing in front of the 9 Supreme Court Justices?
1:03 [GL:] Particularly impressed by Justice Malcolm Rowe.
1:58 [GL:] Also impressed by how respectful the hearing was. And how interested the judges were in the case.
2:14 [GL:] On a personal level …
2:50 [KL:] The Judges’ probing questions and pointed comments/observations fascinated me, can you talk about your experiences? How do you feel about the case itself after the hearing?
4:27 [GL:] I think the star of the day is the Amicus Curiae Mr. Benjamin Zarnett.
4:37 [GL:] Also very impressed by Byron Williams, Counsel for Council of Canadians with Disabilities able to achieve in 5 minutes.
5:04 [KL:] I try to clarify if I had the right Amicus Curiae Mr. Benjamin Zarnett in mind. (note: I did)
6:15 [KL:] My impression of Amicus Curiae’s arguments and I ask GL to share his take.
6:53 [KL:] How do you feel about your own presentation? What is your main take away?
7:54 [GL:] Cover about 2/3 of points want to cover. Happy with being able to “roll with the blows” (answer questions asked and get along with the line of arguments).
8:28 [KL:] What do you feel about Delta’s presentation and arguments? To me as a layman, it feels like the two Delta lawyers were kinda speechless (in a bad way) and weren’t able to answer Judges’ questions well.
9:10 [GL:] Delta’s lawyers didn’t seem to be handling the situations well. Lacking a big picture thinking of what is the case about.
9:31 [GL:] Two moments of the hearing.
11:50 [KL:] While this is not an exact quote, I ask GL to comment on what one justice said, “… I think the rule of law just died a little bit.” which was quite memorable.
12:46 [KL:] Was it during presentations by CTA or Delta lawyers?
13:10 [KL:] Your take on CTA’s legal presentation and performance during the hearing.
15:14 [KL:] 3-5 key legal take aways (questions asked by Judges, etc) that you can share with us?
17:00 [KL:] We will talk in coming days. At the end you shook hands with all the other lawyers. How do you feel now the case is with the justices now?

As a mark of civility of Dr. Lukacs and all the lawyers arguing as best and hard as they can for their views, they shook hands after the hearing was finished.

Dr. Gábor Lukács & lawyers shook hands after Supreme Court hearing

References:
1) 20+ downloadable PDF files relating to SCC File No. 37276.
2) Factums on appeals are available online from the Supreme Court of Canada:
http://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/af-ma-eng.aspx?cas=37276

P.S. In advance of Dr. Lukacs presenting his oral arguments today, this reporter interviewed him at length and you can have a watch/listen to that interview.

Interview Dr. Gabor Lukacs re Delta Air Lines Supreme Court case


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview in advance of Supreme Court case with Delta Air Lines

Tuesday, 3 October, 2017

Interview Dr. Gabor Lukacs re Delta Air Lines Supreme Court case

Here is my 2017/Oct/02 Audio interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, talking about his Supreme Court of Canada case with Delta Air Lines. Here are some rough notes and timecodes (link points) in the interview.

0:00 Independent reporter Kempton [K] asked Dr. Gabor Lukacs [G], Air Passenger Rights Advocate, how is he feeling two days before he appears in front of Supreme Court of Canada Judges?
0:49 [K:] Any special preparation one day before your first Supreme Court appearance? (Yes, G is scheduled to teach a match class Tuesday morning!)
1:20 [G:] Teaching twice a week this term helps my public speaking skills.
2:13 [K:] Not a good idea to lecture the justices? G explains how is it like appearing in front of Supreme Court justices.
4:25 [K:] Briefly explain what this case with Delta is about? And your role?
5:25 G gives a great analogy using a speeding car driving 160km/h down the highway. Who can complain about it?
6:35 G explains Federal Court of Appeal sided with his reasoning and ruled against the CTA (Canadian Transportation Agency) and said it was unreasonable to dismiss the complain.
7:15 G talks about the various PDF files (see reference) filed by him, Delta and other parties. [K’s apologies here re misunderstanding of the pages of documents filed.]
8:22 G explains to K an Amicus Curiae (an impartial adviser) is hired by the Supreme Court and paid for by Attorney General of Canada. And four interveners: ATTORNEY GENERAL (ONTARIO), CANADIAN TRANSPORT AGENCY, INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION, COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES.
9:32 [K:] So the COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES agrees with you and Delta against you. Are there some against you and with you?
11:17 [K:] So roughly how much time have you put into preparing for the case?
13:02 [K:] Have you been to the Supreme Court as a tourist before? How will you feel when you step into the court for the first time arguing a case?
14:30 [K:] How long will it take you to argue the case in front of the Supreme Court justices? [G talks about the Supreme Court proceedings on Wednesday and the various potential outcomes and scenarios.]
17:32 [G:] “What we are dealing with here is a cat which is claiming to be a lion (which is the Canadian Transportation Agency). They have been trying to pretend they are a court.” [K:] “You are not a fan of the CTA? :)”
18:01 [K:] Do you get to reply on top of your 40 minutes presentation time [before the Supreme Court justices]?
19:36 [G:] “This is the first time I’m the respondent! I’m usually the appellant.” [K:] You are usually the underdog in front of the court!
20:05 [G:] [The Federal Court of Appeal got things right substantially.] “We are dealing here with preventive power …”
20:38 G talks about Canadian Transportation Agency recently commencing an investigation of the Air Transat case based on media report without receiving any formal complain.
21:03 [K:] Since I first interviewed you in August 2013, more than four years ago, for the Air Canada case where you helped bumped passengers get $200, $400, or $800 compensation, how does it feel with your hours of hard work getting you to the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court of the land on Wednesday (Oct 4th, 2017)? [K: Great answers that go into some wonderful insight. I may try to transcript some of the answers when I can find some time.]
25:22 [K:] If you accidentally run into the Minister of Transport, The Honourable Marc Garneau, in the airport and get stuck with him in an elevator, what would you tell him in 30 seconds?
26:43 [K:] Taking my independent reporter hat off for a moment to speak as an air passenger and wishing G the best of luck.

References:
1) 20+ downloadable PDF files relating to SCC File No. 37276.
2) Via Air Passenger Rights’ FB page:
//The hearing is open for the public, and will be webcast live [Wednesday Oct 4th, 2017]:
http://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/webcast-webdiffusion-eng.aspx?cas=37276
THE ISSUE
The Court is called upon to decide whether Lukacs can complain about Delta’s practice of discriminating against “large” passengers.
BACKGROUND
The Canadian Transportatoin Agency (Agency) dismissed the complaint because Lukacs is not “large.”
The Federal Court of Appeal quashed the Agency’s decision as being unreasonable: the purpose of the complaint is to prevent harm to the public, and not to seek individual benefits.
SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES
Factums on appeals are available online:
http://www.scc-csc.ca/case-dossier/info/af-ma-eng.aspx?cas=37276 //


Viagra free-for-all: Viagra patent deemed impotent by Supreme Court of Canada

Thursday, 8 November, 2012

In a ground breaking 7-0 unanimous decision “Teva Canada Ltd. v. Pfizer Canada Inc., 2012 SCC 60″ today, Supreme Court of Canada has declared Pfizer’s Viagra patent void in Canada with serious sales/financial implications. Quoting Justice LeBel (emphasis added),

Patent 2,163,446 is void.

The patent application did not satisfy the disclosure requirements set out in the Patent Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P‑4 (“Act”).  The patent system is based on a “bargain”: the inventor is granted exclusive rights in a new and useful invention for a limited period in exchange for disclosure of the invention so that society can benefit from this knowledge.  Sufficiency of disclosure lies at the very heart of the patent system, so adequate disclosure in the specification is a precondition for the granting of a patent.

According to Globe & Mail, “Pfizer Canada made about $80-million last year from sales of Viagra.” Company doesn’t have to apply for patents and disclose the secrets of their inventions. Like Coke just keeps its formula as a trade secret. But if a company wants to get patents, the disclosure requirements are no joking matter and can mean billions as in this case.

Lets be clear on one thing, the declaration of Pfizer’s Viagra patent void doesn’t mean you get Viagra free as some men wish to! It does mean the patent protection afforded Pfizer exclusive right is now gone, and Canadian users of Viagra can expect cheaper generic version of Viagra type drugs to be available soon. In fact, according to CBC News,

The unanimous decision opens the door for Teva to introduce a generic version of Viagra. By the afternoon on Thursday, Teva had already moved to do just that, posting a message on its website, announcing the creation of Novo-Sildenafil and noting the product is available via prescription.

P.S. I am not a lawyer in Canada or U.S. so you should check with expert first. My understanding is that under the U.S. patent and trademark system, the “disclosure requirement” is better know as “2165 The Best Mode Requirement (linked to USPTO)” which I relied heavily in a 2006 patent review I did on an entrepreneur’s patent application within an episode of CBC award-winning hit TV show Dragons’ Den!

NOTE: This article is cross-posted by me at examiner.com


Fact checking & Correcting the USA Today “Supreme Court likely to vote on health care law Friday” article

Friday, 30 March, 2012

Fact checking & Correcting the USA Today “Supreme Court likely to vote on health care law Friday” article
I am not a lawyer and don’t even play one in my dreams but I think the USA Today article (see below for article link) has given an incorrectly impression that US Supreme Court justices’ votes today is final when it is not.

Quoting Wikipedia,

At this conference, each justice – in order from most to least senior – states the basis on which he or she would decide the case, and a preliminary vote is taken.

and the explanation under the title

Circulating draft opinions and changing of views

I honestly expected more informed and precise reporting from widely read publication like the USA Today. Well, I overestimated USA Today. By the way, as a legal geek for some years now (again, I am not a lawyer). I want to point out an interesting difference in the decision making processor between Supreme Court of Canada and Supreme Court of US

In Canada,

They sit at a round table in the room and each judge gives their opinion of the case, starting with the least senior judge [ending with the Chief Justice.

In US,

At this conference, each justice – in order from most to least senior – states the basis on which he or she would decide the case, and a preliminary vote is taken.

My personal take is the Canadian approach is superior in eliciting wider range of freely given opinions where even the most junior justice is given a full opportunity to express his/her view without constrained by more senior justices’ expressed opinions, let alone opinions from the Chief Justice. Of course, some would argue that as supreme court justices of any country of any seniority, the justices can say whatever he/she wants. But I, unscientifically, suspect human nature will limit and restrict opinion expressed in the US model.

What do you think?

References:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/story/2012-03-29/health-care-court-vote/53873778/1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procedures_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_Canada#Reasons
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procedures_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States#Forming_opinions

See section 10 (last page). “Court Conference” retired Justice Binnie’s discussion of “sundown rule
http://online.cle.bc.ca/CourseMaterial/pdfs/2001/262_13_1.pdf

“In the months following the hearing there is a lot of writing and rewriting and there is debate amongst the judges who sat on the case about how propositions should be formulated and what should be put in and what should be left out, and there is supplementary research done on points of difficulty, and the air is filled with memoranda to and fro the judges. Opinions are modified. Minds are changed. If the court is closely divided on a particular appeal, the outcome could shift.

P.S. I want to emphasize that my point is the Supreme Court justices can change their opinions. I am not saying whether they will or will not in this case.


2 Supreme Court of Canada justices to retire

Friday, 13 May, 2011

From CBC, “2 Supreme Court of Canada justices to retire“,

“Two Supreme Court of Canada judges have announced they will step down at the end of August.

Justice Ian Binnie, 72, and Justice Louise Charron, 60, have written to Federal Justice Minister Robert Nicholson, to inform him of their plans, both effective Aug. 30, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said Friday in a release. Binnie has indicated a willingness to stay longer if needed during the judge-selection process”


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