It was a cold morning at Calgary International Airport on January 24, 2003. As temperatures dropped to minus 6.3°F. Flight attendants Brian, Paula, and Sue began boarding passengers onto US Flight 851. The three knew that the FAA prohibits flying while frost or ice is present on any wing surface. As they looked out the windows, they saw patches of frost along the wings.
This observation was verified by the Calgary Ground Crew, who wrote the following in an irregularity report:
“At 6:15, my deicing partner Jeff Switner approached a member of the flight crew and, asking if they were going to require a deice. They said no, that they were fine. We were both surprised, because we could see the frost on the wings and fuselage.”
Despite the presence of frost on the wings, the Capt and FO began pushing Flt 851 back for departure. Frantic to prevent any unsafe takeoff, the
FA’s approached the FO and told him that passengers had seen frost on the wings and were concerned about not de-icing. Flt 851 then pushed back into position and deiced.
With quick thinking, the FA’s averted a possible catastrophic safety violation. Yet, when they reported events of that day to the FAA, they weren’t hailed as heroes. They were sued.
On November 20, 2006, the first officer sued Brian, Paula, and Sue in Maricopa County, AZ. The original lawsuit alleged three different causes of action: Defamation, Tortious Interference With Contract, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
At his deposition in March 2007, the FO admitted that frost was, in fact, present on the wings of the aircraft:
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Brian, Paula, and Sue have paid for their legal defense out of their own pockets. Despite the fact that they were acting in their capacity as airline employees when they reported the events of January 24, 2003, the airline has so far refused to help them in any way with their defense. In fact, the airline has even refused a request from all the parties (even the first officer) that they be prevented from flying with the first officer who is suing them.
FA’s should be allowed to report safety violations, without the threat that they will be dragged into court and have to face the threat of a frivolous lawsuit. Please consider contributing to their legal defense fund, so that they can continue to fight for the right for anyone to report safety violation, whether that person be a member of the flight crew, ground crew, or simply a passenger.
Brian, Paula, and Sue have spent over $65,000 of their own money so far in defending against this meritless lawsuit. They are headed to trial in 2010 and need all the help they can get! Please consider helping them by clicking on the link below. This will direct you to the chipin link: www.helpflightattendantcrew.blogspot.com