Major airline sued after pilot’s horror act

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Three passengers have sued a major airline over an incident in which an off-duty pilot tried to shut down the plane’s engines.

An off-duty pilot accused of shutting down the engines of an Alaska Airlines plane in flight told police afterward that he had a nervous breakdown, had taken psychedelic mushrooms two days earlier and had not slept in 40 hours, it emerged from court documents Tuesday (October 24). Ryan Chang reports.

The passengers – who were aboard Horizon Air Flight 2059, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines – claim they suffered emotional distress after 44-year-old Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph David Emerson allegedly tried to pull two handles which would have activated a fire suppression system and cut through the fire. fuel to the engines, according to the Associated Press, citing charging documents filed Thursday in Washington state.

Emerson was sitting in the jump seat, an extra seat in the cockpit, when he suddenly said:

“I’m not doing well” and I tried to pull two levers, authorities said in the charging documents, according to Fox Business.

Joseph Emerson is accused of trying to shut down the engines of a plane he was on while off duty. Image: Facebook

The plane was en route from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco on October 22, but was diverted and landed safely in Portland, Oregon. Emerson was eventually stopped by cabin crew members and arrested after the flight landed.

The Alaska Airlines flight was operated by the group’s regional subsidiary Horizon Air. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are owned by Alaska Air Group.

In Thursday’s class action lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, the three passengers alleged that the Emerson should never have been in the cockpit because he suffered from depression and lack of sleep.

They claimed the plane experienced “what felt like a nosedive,” although some passengers quoted in news reports described no such thing.

It comes from the three passengers who were on board the Alaska Airlines plane accusing it of violating its duty to ensure flight safety. Image: Facebook

The plaintiffs, Matthew Doland, Theresa Stelter and Paul Stephen, claim they suffered from anxiety, insomnia, fear of flying and other emotional fallout as a result of the incident.

The lawsuit seeks special and general damages in amounts to be proven at trial, including ticket costs, damages for psychological injury, physical pain and suffering, according to Reuters.

The lawsuit also seeks a preliminary injunction requiring Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air to investigate all expected flight crew and jump seat passengers, including their mental health status.

Alaska Airlines and law firm The Stritmatter Firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Image: istock

Alaska Airlines told Fox Business that it is investigating the complaint.

“The pilots and flight attendants operating Flight 2059 responded without hesitation to ensure the safety of everyone on board,” the airline said. “We are incredibly proud and grateful for their professional performance.”

Emerson has already pleaded not guilty in Multnomah County, Oregon, to state-level charges, including 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft.

In an October court document, Emerson said he had taken “magic mushrooms” two days before the alleged incident, had not slept for 40 hours and was suffering from depression.

He told investigators in the aftermath of the fear in the air that he thought he was dreaming and wanted to wake up, an Oregon prosecutor said in an affidavit.

Daniel Laurence, an aviation attorney at The Stritmatter Firm, which is representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement that his clients are seeking frank public explanations from the airlines involved as to why they failed to implement strict pre-flight security checks.

Such preflight safety screening, he said, could help identify pilots capable of sabotaging an aircraft.

“The airlines need a wake-up call,” Laurence said. “We understand that most pilots are heroes every day for safely flying our aircraft, but they are not immune to insomnia, binge drinking, drugs or a mental health crisis.”

“Emerson’s statements while in the air and shortly after his arrest show that if the airlines here had done that, he would never have been allowed on board. Our clients have suffered unnecessarily as a result. Only luck prevented it from becoming a massive disaster.”

The airline released a statement on October 24, two days after the incident, saying that at no time during the check-in or boarding process did gate agents or flight crew observe any signs of impairment that would have led them to use Emerson prevent it from flying. on flight 2059.

The airline said all passengers could complete their trip to California on a new flight with a new crew.

This article originally appeared on Fox Business and is reprinted with permission

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