A former aviation security officer fired for his part in the violent removal of a flyer from an overbooked flight has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $150K from United Airlines and the City of Chicago.
On August 8, 2017, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) Aviation Security Officer James Long lost his job in the fallout over a now-infamous incident in which officers physically dragged a 69-year-old physician from his seat on a United Airlines Express flight in order to make room for employees traveling on company business. Video of the officers violently removing the senior citizen from the aircraft caused public outrage and eventually cost the four officers involved their jobs.
Now, Long is suing his former employer along with United Airlines for lost wages and a substantial punitive award as a result of his termination. According to court papers obtained by The Chicago Sun Times, lawyers for the now-unemployed Long are seeking more than $150,000 in damages in a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
An investigation by Office of Inspector General last year found evidence of a coverup by some of the officers involved. According to the official report on the incident, the officers “made misleading statements and deliberately removed material facts from their reports.” Investigators further concluded, “The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose, and the loss of two teeth.”
Long maintains that not only was he not properly trained for the tense situation aboard United Airlines Flight 3411, but he also claims that airline officials should have foreseen the eventual violent outcome when officers were called to remove the already seated paying passenger from the soon-to-depart flight.
While United Airlines and Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) were both named in the lawsuit, the court filing singles out Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans for failing to create an effective training program for “how to respond to an escalating situation” involving the flying public. Long also claims that in a string of social media posts and comments to the press, Evans made “deliberate and intentionally misleading omissions with the direct intention to harm.”
In the days following the embarrassing, headline-grabbing incident, Evans is alleged to have made a series of untrue and disparaging remarks about the officers involved. The lawsuit notes that Evans posted a tweet noting that officers were unarmed “for good reason” and made unfounded on-the-record comments indicating that the officers’ actions were “completely inappropriate.” Long has also accused his former boss of inaccurately implying that he “sexually harassed or criminally stalked” her following his termination.