< PrevNext > Lorna Schofield, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York The Ding in GDSs' Armor By Jay Boehmer / December 14, 2017 / Contact Reporter Share Following an eight-week trial last year, an 11-member jury concluded that Sabre's distribution contract provisions—as applied to US Airways' 2011 contract, at least—"unreasonably restrained trade." The jury also concluded the airline plaintiff did not bring sufficient evidence to show Sabre colluded with competing global distribution systems.Judges are inherently influential in such proceedings: They approve or deny motions that advance or toss claims; they decide which evidence is admissible; and they dictate the rules of the road on which plaintiffs, defendants and juries must drive.This year, U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield added several key decisions to the years-long antitrust case. In March, she affirmed the jury's verdict, denying Sabre's bid to overturn it or retry the contract claim it lost. Sabre has insisted it has operated within the bounds of law. In an appeal filed this year, it further contested the judgment. American Airlines, too, has appealed aspects of the case. That higher court review continues.This year, Schofield also denied a bid by American, which merged with US Airways and continued the case after it was filed in 2011, to elaborate on the scope of the verdict so that it would further clarify the rights of airlines when faced with contract terms similar or identical to those the jury found unlawful. Airlines joining that failed request included Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa Group and United.To several industry watchers, the resolution of the case in the district court augured incremental, though not big bang, changes in distribution. At the very least, it provided new leverage for airlines negotiating GDS deals. As one airline lawyer commented after the trial: "Having a jury determine that the provisions in that contract were illegal obviously raises very serious implications for Sabre if they want to continue to insist on them in contracts."