UPDATE, 7/18: Three more passengers from the Las-Vegas bound JetBlue flight in which pilot Clayton Osbon had to be physically restrained have decided to sue the airline, the Daily News reports. Gavriel Gavrilov, his father, Alexander Gavrilov, and Ilusha Babadzanov, are all seeking unspecified damages when they file a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court later this week. Gavriel told The Daily News that, as the pilot started his now famous meltdown, he "said my prayer and good-bye to everybody that I know."
ASSOCIATED PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Ten passengers filed a lawsuit Wednesday against JetBlue Airways, claiming they feared for their lives when a pilot had to be physically restrained after running through the cabin yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida during a New York-to-Las Vegas flight in March.
The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Queens, claims the airline was "grossly negligent" in allowing Capt. Clayton Osbon to fly.
Plaintiff Michael Bedziner, 48, of Commack, N.Y., who was headed to a conference of security consultants, said that since the Sept. 11 attacks, he has often looked around airplane cabins, suspicious of who may be a terrorist.
"But you always look to the airline crew and say, `OK, this is a group I can turn to and say we're safer.' What does this tell us? Now the very people that we're supposed to turn to for that assurance are the ones we're frightened of. And the pilot, no less," he said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.
Sharon Jones, a JetBlue spokeswoman, said the airline does not comment on pending litigation.
A flight attendant's ribs were bruised as passengers tried to restrain Osbon, but no one on board was seriously injured. The March 27 flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.
Osbon faces a hearing Friday morning in Amarillo to determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial. He faces federal charges of interfering with a flight crew. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Attorneys Jonathan Reiter and Steve Epstein, who represent the 10 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said they intend to seek information on whether there were any indications Osbon had shown signs of mental instability before March 27.
"We're going to have to delve into that," Reiter said. "That is one of the things this lawsuit is about."
According to the lawsuit and a federal indictment, witnesses on Flight 191 say Osbon ran through the cabin in a wild rant. The first officer locked him out of the cockpit and passengers wrestled Osbon to the floor.
The lawsuit also claims he was "yelling about September 11th, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, al-Qaida and terrorists."
Other comments, according to the suit, included: "we're all going down," "you better start praying right now," "I'm going to show you Iraq and Iran right now," "there's a bomb on board," and "the plane will never make it to Vegas."
Neither Bedziner nor three other plaintiffs at the news conference could provide many specific details on what they heard. They said they witnessed the commotion from various venues aboard the jetliner.
Richard Signoretti, 48, of Rosedale, N.Y., had his eyes closed and was listening to music when the woman next to him poked him to get his attention after the trouble started.
"What I got from him was, `You're not going to make it to Las Vegas.' It was extremely frightening, it was extremely unnerving. I still haven't gotten a good night's sleep," Signoretti said.
The lawsuit claims JetBlue knew or should have known Osbon was unfit to be entrusted with the aircraft as pilot.
The 10 plaintiffs, all from the metropolitan New York area, are seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress.
JetBlue: Pilot Experienced "Medical Situation"
Passengers tackled the pilot of a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas, after the pilot became irate and rambled about Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. JetBlue says the pilot suffered a "medical situation." (March 28)
Neighbor: JetBlue Captain 'A Good Guy'
Thomas Consiglio, whose grandmother is the longtime landlord of JetBlue Captain Clayton Osbon, said Wednesday he couldn't believe that Osbon was involved in disrupting a flight on Tuesday. (March 28)
JetBlue Pilot Restrained on Flight from New York
A JetBlue captain had to be restrained by passengers after he was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot.
JetBlue Las Vegas Flight Diverted After Captain ‘Went Nuts' Mid-Air
A JetBlue Las Vegas-bound flight was diverted to Amarillo, Texas, Tuesday after the pilot reportedly had a mental breakdown, telling passengers to "say your prayers."
JetBlue CEO: Captain a 'Consummate Professional'
Passengers aboard an early morning flight bound from New York to Las Vegas first noticed something wrong when the plane's top pilot came out of the cockpit, didn't close the door and tried to force his way into an occupied bathroom. (March 28)
Raw Video: Passengers Restrain JetBlue Pilot
Amateur video emerged on Tuesday purportedly showed men holding the pilot aboard a flight from New York to Las Vegas after he began behaving erratically and shouting at passengers. (March 28)