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JetBlue Pilot Who Screamed Religious Rants To Passengers Is Suing The Carrier

April 2, 2015 - Clayton Osbon, an ex-JetBlue pilot is suing the carrier for their failure in preventing him from acting as pilot in command onboard Flight 191 out of John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport, for Las Vegas, Nevada.

On March 27, 2012, Captain Osbon had a nervous breakdown while in-flight, in one of his incidents Osbon ran down the aisle of the airplane stating to the passengers “Pray f***ing now for Jesus Christ […] this plane will never make it to Vegas.” Osbon is suing JetBlue for $14.9 million for damages and remedies based upon what he believes to be a breach of contract and negligence.

Captain Osbon graduated from Nathaniel Hawthorne College in 1987, with a degree in aeronautical physics. He received his pilot's license in 1985 and in 1987 captained a commercial plane. Osbon gained employment with JetBlue as a Captain in 2004 until March 27, 2012 when he was placed on medical leave, Osbon primarily flew the Airbus aircraft while with JetBlue.

Prior to the incident on Flight 191, Osbon maintained a completely clean pilot's license and medical certificate and was viewed as exemplary employee at JetBlue. Court records indicate, unknown to Osbon, he had suffered a childhood head injury to his brain in which he had recovered from when he was a child. However, an unknown brain damage remained without Osbon knowing about it, and was completely asymptomatic until in or around March 27, 2012, at which time Osbon began to suffer, "for the first time in his life, a complex partial brain seizure".

Court records further stated Osbon's seizure severely impaired his ability to perform basic activities, causing him to hallucinate, and caused extreme feelings of paranoia and religious fervor. "As of March 27, 2012, Captain Osbon was unaware of his propensity for brain seizures or his brain damage. On March 27, 2012, Captain Osbon was also unaware that he was undergoing a brain seizure".

On March 27, Osbon was to act as pilot in command Flight 191. Prior to the flight in accordance with JetBlue's procedures, the flight crew was scheduled to attend a preflight briefing at JFK, Osbon failed to attend this briefing due to his seizure. In court documents JetBlue made several attempts to reach Osbon after he failed to report to the preflight briefing. This was the first time Osbon had missed a preflight in the 12 years he worked for JetBlue.



Osbon claims JetBlue should have know that there was something wrong with him before he got into the cockpit and the company failed to create and implement proper procedures to ensure that a crew member, and particularly a pilot, who is either intoxicated, under the influence of narcotics, or otherwise physically or mentally unfit to fly, is not permitted to fly.

Court records indicate that Osbon arrived for Flight 191 disheveled and disoriented, his uniform, appearance, and demeanor clearly demonstrated that something was wrong and that he was not fit to fly. Shortly after arriving in the cockpit of Flight 191, Osbon began the required preflight checklist with his copilot, First Officer Dowd. At that time it was clear Osbon was not fit to fly. Just after takeoff Osbon failed to provide radio check-ins and clearance read backs with air traffic control. About 15 minutes into the flight Osbon informed the copilot he was unfit to fly and could not assist with the flight.

Court records indicate Captain Osbon relieved himself of command despite the fact he was in the midst of brain seizure and rapidly losing touch with reality. Osbon believes JetBlue should have immediately diverted the plane and landed after Osbon concluded he was unfit to fly. (Judge Rules JetBlue Captain Is Competent To Stand Trial)
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