You probably remember the story of the JetBlue pilot that flipped out and appeared to suffer a complete mental break on a flight from New York to Las Vegas back in March. (Note the terms "insane" and "flipped out" are used descriptively, this is a legal blog, not a medical one.)
The flight's veteran pilot, Clayton Osbon, went stark raving mad mid-flight and started discussing such matters as Iraq, Afghanistan, and 9/11. He even claimed that there was a bomb on the flight. He was locked out of the cockpit and passengers tackled and subdued him until the flight made an emergency landing, reports the Huffington Post.
It would be understandable if the passengers were a little freaked out by the incident. Anyone would be, but especially those from New York. Because the passengers were so traumatized, ten of the passengers are now suing the airline.
But how is the airline responsible for a pilot that went bonkers with no warning? Well, that’s an excellent question, especially considering that the pilot had no mental issues or history thereof that we’ve heard of. The ten passengers are claiming that the airline should have known.
In negligence cases, the defendant is judged against the reasonable person. In this case, would the reasonable airline have taken steps, such as annual mental evaluations, to prevent occurrences like this?
The passengers, and their lawyers, sure think so. They argue that the airline should be checking the mental health status of all of its employees regularly, and that any reasonable airline would do so.
The airline, on the other hand, will probably point out that the onset of the mental illness was so sudden and unexpected that even regular mental health screenings wouldn’t have detected any abnormalities.
A related point is that by filing this lawsuit, the plaintiffs will probably be able engage in the discovery process, which means they can tear through the airline’s relevant records for any indication that they actually did know of pending mental issues with Clayton Osbon, plus will be able to investigate the company’s policies on mental health screening.
Of course, that could bring up a litany of privacy and medical records issues, should the case not settle before then.
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- Standards of Care and the “Reasonable Person” (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Could Safe Sex Video Cause Seniors to Break a Hip? (FindLaw’s New York Personal Injury Law Blog)
- JetBlue passengers sue airline and pilot Clayton Osbon who flipped out on flight, screaming about bombs (New York Daily News)