REPORT: Passengers Sue Alaska Airlines Over Off-Duty Pilot Who Allegedly Tried To Shut Down Engines

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Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
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Three passengers have reportedly taken legal action against Alaska Airlines, alleging emotional distress caused by an incident that occurred in October.

San Francisco residents Matthew Doland and Theresa Stelter, along with Paul Stephen from Kenmore, Washington, filed a complaint Thursday in Washington’s King County Superior Court, the Associated Press (AP) reported. They are alleging the off-duty pilot accused of attempting to shut down the plane’s engines should never have been permitted to sit in the cockpit due to his purported sleep deprivation and past depression.

The pilot in question, Joseph David Emerson, was seated in the jumpseat of the cockpit during the incident. He abruptly declared “I’m not OK” and tried to engage a fire-suppression system by pulling two handles that would cut off fuel to the engines, AP reported, citing the charging documents. (RELATED: Psychedelic Experts Explain How To Do Shrooms Without Crashing An Airplane And Killing 83 People)

The flight, operated by Alaska’s affiliate Horizon Air, landed safely in Portland, Oregon, on a diversion after the flight crew managed to subdue Emerson, law enforcement said, per AP. Emerson was voluntarily handcuffed and stayed in the rear of the plane.

The plaintiffs have alleged they experienced anxiety, insomnia and fear of flying, among other emotional effects, as a result of the incident. Their lawsuit is seeking class-action status and argues Alaska Airlines failed to fulfill its highest duty of care to passengers by permitting Emerson to be in the cockpit jumpseat, according to AP.

The lawsuit also alleges the plane underwent a movement akin to a “nose-dive,” per the outlet. However, some passengers interviewed in news accounts did not report such an experience. “We didn’t know anything was happening until the flight attendant got on the loudspeaker and made an announcement that there was an emergency situation and the plane needed to land immediately,” passenger Aubrey Gavello told ABC News.