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2 dozen join NY JetBlue lawsuit over pilot scare

Associated Press Modified: September 27, 2012 at 11:31 am •  Published: September 27, 2012

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Two dozen passengers joined a lawsuit in New York on Thursday against JetBlue Airways Corp. stemming from a pilot's rant during a cross-country flight.

They are now among 34 passengers who claim they feared for their lives when a pilot had to be restrained in the cabin while ranting wildly during the March Las Vegas-bound flight. The flight was diverted and safely landed in Amarillo, Texas.

An amended lawsuit was filed in federal court in Brooklyn; the original lawsuit was filed in June in state Supreme Court but was moved to federal court at the request of the airline, according to the amended complaint.

It claims JetBlue was "grossly negligent" in allowing Capt. Clayton Osbon to fly. Osbon was charged with interference with a flight crew, but he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in July.

A JetBlue spokeswoman said Thursday the airline does not comment on pending litigation.

A forensic neuropsychologist testified in a short, unpublicized trial that Osbon had a "brief psychotic disorder" at the time of the flight, brought on by lack of sleep.

Passengers said Osbon left the cockpit during the March 27 flight. He ran through the plane's cabin yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida.

After the trial, Osbon was sent to a prison medical facility in North Carolina for evaluation. He was scheduled to return to Amarillo federal court in August for another hearing on whether he should go free or be sent to a mental health facility. Instead, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson extended Osbon's evaluation period to Oct. 15, with a final evaluation report due to her by the end of that month.

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