Three days after a Germanwings pilot’s alleged mental health crisis caused an Airbus A320 to crash into an Alpine mountainside, a former JetBlue Captain filed a $14.9 million dollar suit against the his old airline, claiming the airline shouldn’t have allowed him to fly.Clayton Osbon, 52, was the Captain on JetBlue flight 191 from New York JFK to Las Vegas on May 27, 2012. The flight diverted to Lubbock, TX after Captain Osbon displayed erratic behavior over the radio to air traffic controllers, and to the passengers and crew on the flight.
According to the New York Daily News, an FBI agent was on-board the flight, and recounted the following:
It wasn’t until the plane was in the air that Osbon started to lose it, according to the agent’s affidavit.
The aggravated aviator then began screaming at the air traffic controllers over the radio, speaking gibberish and sprinting up and down the aisle.
“Pray f–ing now for Jesus Christ!” he shouted at one point before ranting about 9/11, Iraq, Iran and terrorism.
“We’re all going down!” he later howled.
A Texas federal judge cleared Osbon on a charge of interfering with a flight crew, ruling that he was afflicted with “severe mental disease.”
Since then, Osbon has not flown for jetBlue, having to quit as part of his rehabilitation. On Friday, Osbon filed suit against jetBlue. According to Reuters:
In his lawsuit, Osbon said his conduct on the flight stemmed from a “complex partial brain seizure” that JetBlue should have caught before he boarded, after he had missed a preflight meeting and appeared disheveled, disoriented and slow.
“JetBlue failed to make any effort to ensure that Captain Osbon was fit to fly,” the complaint said. “Instead, JetBlue maintained a culture designed to protect the careers of crewmembers that were demonstrably impaired.”
Osbon said the episode subjected him to “national public embarrassment” in traditional and social media, and derailed his job prospects.
A federal judge later found him not guilty by reason of insanity to a criminal charge of interfering with a flight crew.
The lawsuit accuses JetBlue of negligence and breach of contract. It seeks $4.85 million of compensatory damages, $4.85 million of punitive damages, a combined $4.85 million for reputational damage and emotional distress, and other sums.
I think this situation is a bit of a mess. I can’t decided if JetBlue should be held responsible for missing critical warning signs, or if Osbon should be responsible for his own physical and mental health. I’m curious as to the outcome of the lawsuit. Anyone want to venture a guess as to what might happen?