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Law Firm of Jonathan C Reiter Files Lawsuit in New York for Passengers on JetBlue Pilot Meltdown

After pilot's sudden, dangerous in-flight rants cause alarm and fear, passengers want to know how such a situation was allowed to happen -- and to ensure it never happens again

/ New York, NY - Seeking Accountability -- and Answers -- for Passengers on 'Pilot Meltdown' JetBlue Flight, the Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter Files Lawsuit in New York

It was a flight that resulted in headlines -- and almost in disaster. Now 10 passengers are demanding accountability in the wake of JetBlue Flight 191 and the shocking -- and dangerous -- onboard meltdown of its captain. On Wednesday June 13, the Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter filed a lawsuit on behalf of the passengers in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Queens, against JetBlue Airways Corporation, which operated the March 27th flight, and the captain, Clayton Osbon.

The complaint, which outlines the chilling in-flight behavior of Captain Osbon -- including shouts that "we're all going down" and "you better start praying right now" -- after he was locked out of the aircraft's flight deck by the first officer, alleges that the plaintiffs experienced fear of imminent death and severe physical injury due to Osbon's actions and the struggle to subdue him. According to the filing by the Reiter firm, each of the plaintiffs suffered severe emotional disturbance, anxiety, and fear after Osbon began ranting, running up and down the aisle, and pounding on the cockpit door. The flight, which had left New York en route to Las Vegas, ultimately made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas, with the first officer in command.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from both defendants, but the main goal, says the plaintiffs' lawyer, is to get answers for how such a scenario -- and such risk -- could ever come about in the first place.

"It is important for the safety of all airline passengers that the facts of this case be fully investigated and made public, and that is what this lawsuit intends to do," says Jonathan Reiter, a veteran trial lawyer based in New York. "The plaintiffs in this case want to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again and that proper procedures are instituted to keep unfit pilots out of the cockpits of commercial airplanes."

The passengers' lawsuit -- in which the law firm of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon is serving as co-counsel -- alleges multiple causes of action against Osbon and Jetblue, including assault, intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. JetBlue is liable under these causes of action, the complaint says, because it was Osbon's employer and the pilot was acting in his capacity as a JetBlue employee at the time. The airline is also liable, according to the filing, because it was "grossly negligent in retaining" Osbon, and either knew or should have known he was unfit to be entrusted with the aircraft as pilot in command. Indeed, a separate cause of action against JetBlue specifically alleges that the airline was negligent in its hiring, supervision, and retention of Osbon, and should have known that he was "unfit, unhealthy, mentally unbalanced, and was a danger to passengers."

The plaintiffs, all residents of New York or Connecticut, have requested a jury trial.

Osborn is already facing federal charges of interfering with a flight crew. If convicted in that case, now pending in Amarillo, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

For more than 30 years, the Manhattan-based accident law firm of Jonathan C. Reiter has been among the country's leading aviation, personal injury, and medical malpractice law firms. Our attorneys are dynamic, compassionate, and experienced trial lawyers with an impressive track record for winning just awards for clients in catastrophic injury and New York wrongful death cases. We are committed advocates -- and partners -- for those who have been seriously injured or killed as a result of airline crashes, medical malpractice, defective products, construction accidents, mass disasters, and other types of negligence.

Injury Lawyer Jonathan C. Reiter
Law Firm of Jonathan C. Reiter