March 31, 2015
Clayton Osbon, ex-Jet Blue Pilot, sues carrier for US$14.90m
Only three days after the crash of the Germanwings A320 in the French Alps, an ex- Jet Blue pilot, Clayton Osbon, who had what was described at the time as a ‘mid-air meltdown’, is suing the carrier for ‘negligence and breach of contract.’ The sum in question is for US$14.90m and the breakdown of the amount is as follows: USD$4.85m compensatory damages, USD$4.85m punitive damages, USD$4.85m for reputational damage, emotional distress, and US$350,000 for other matters. The timing of the filing of the lawsuit at the Manhattan Federal court is unfortunate, but it was exactly three years ago, on the 27th March 2012, that the incident involving Clayton Osbon occurred, and the statute of limitations for negligence claims in New York is three years.
It was on a routine flight from New York’s JFK airport to Las Vegas that Osbon was locked out of the cockpit and, after visiting the rest room, he began behaving erratically towards passengers, shouting about terrorism and religion, while also making comments including “We’re not going to Vegas” and “You’d better start praying now!” Passengers managed to overpower Osbon and the plane made an emergency landing at Rick Husband International Airport, Amarillo,Tx.
In the lawsuit, Osbon makes it clear that his behavior on the flight was as the result of a “complex partial brain seizure” which JetBlue should have noticed before he boarded the plane. On that day he had missed a pre-flight meeting and was noticeably disheveled, disoriented and slow. According to the complaint: “JetBlue failed to make any effort to ensure that Captain Osbon was fit to fly. Instead, JetBlue maintained a culture designed to protect the careers of crew-members that were demonstrably impaired.” Osbon indicated that the incident had seen him subjected to “national public embarrassment” in the media, and that it had severely damaged his job prospects.
A subsequent prosecution on a criminal charge of interfering with a flight crew saw a not guilty verdict given by reason of insanity.