A group of flyers aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 have filed a class action lawsuit against both the Seattle-based airline and Horizon Air, claiming the carrier failed to do due diligence to protect passengers.
More legal issues could be coming against Alaska Airlines if a group of flyers have their way in court.
In a press release, a group of passengers represented by The Stritmatter Firm who were aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 announced a lawsuit against the carrier and Horizon Air, demanding a public explanation for how the situation happened in the first place.
Attorneys Demand “Public Explanation” and Preventative Actions Against Future Incidents
Although attorneys say the lawsuit was filed in Washington’s King County Superior Court – where Alaska Airlines is headquartered – the claim has not yet appeared on the court’s website. In the 30-page complaint, the attorneys are asking for a public explanation from the court.
The incident aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 2059, operated by Horizon Air, took place on October 22, 2023, when off-duty Alaska pilot Joseph Emerson allegedly attempted to shut down the engines of a Horizon Air Embraer 175 airframe mid-flight. According to a statement from the airline, power was not disrupted and the pilots were able to successfully subdue the pilot and divert the flight to Portland International Airport (PDX).
The attorneys representing the group of flyers say they are asking the airline to “Compel a forthright public explanation from the involved airlines as to why they did not apply rigorous pre-flight security screening.” Information presented after the incident accuse Emerson of suffering from depression for months, and supposedly took drugs before the flight.
A statement from Alaska states that pre-boarding, Emerson did not present any signs of drug intoxication and gate agents at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) were able to successfully confirm his identity and approval to fly in the cockpit jump seat.
“At no time during the check-in or boarding process did our Gate Agents or flight crew observe any signs of impairment that would have led them to prevent Emerson from flying on Flight 2059,” the Alaska statement reads.”
However, the attorneys accuse Alaska and Horizon of offering an explanation of “any effort it took shortly before Emerson boarded to question or otherwise screen him about any condition that would disqualify him from being in the cockpit at the time or piloting the aircraft in an emergency.” As part of their suit, the lawyers are not only demanding full transparency, but information on how they will prevent future incidents.
“Airlines can and should take simple and reasonable steps before each flight to challenge the presumption that every pilot who shows up at the gate is rested, sober, and in the right state of mind to fly,” Daniel Laurence, aviation attorney for Stritmatter, said in a press release. “Emerson’s statements while in the air and shortly after his arrest show that had the airlines here done so, he would never have been allowed aboard.”
The suit is also seeking monetary compensation, including tickets and fees, charges for treatment of health conditions, and damages for psychological injury, among other items. Alaska Airlines has not commented on the pending litigation.
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