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Pilot's in-flight incident prompts lawsuit against Alaska Airlines

The case of an off-duty Bay Area pilot charged with attempted murder after an in-flight incident now has spurred a class-action lawsuit against his employer, Alaska Airlines.

Joseph Emerson of Pleasant Hill was off-duty, riding in the cockpit jump seat on a Horizon Air flight last month when he tried to power down the plane’s engines midflight, authorities say. He faces 83 charges of attempted murder in the second degree, one count of endangering an aircraft and a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew.

Now, an attorney for three of the passengers has filed a class action lawsuit to force airlines to put their pilots through more rigorious preflight screenings. Two of the three passengers named in the class action suit are from San Francisco.

The suit also seeks damages for psychological injury and distress and for lost travel and economic oppportuinities because of the traumatic event.

Emerson remains in custody and is scheduled to return to court later this month.

After the plane bound for San Francisco made a safe emergency landing in Portland, where Emerson was taken into custody, he allegedly told police that he was dealing with depresssion, feared he was having a nervous breakdown and that he’d taken psychedelic mushrooms days before and hadn’t slept in 40 hours.

Emerson is accused of trying to flip the switch on an emergency fuel shut off, which would also shut off the engines. The two pilot flying the jet had to subdue Emerson.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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