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Flyer Accuses American of False Imprisonment

An Arizona flyer is taking American Airlines to court, claiming the carrier is to blame for a 17-day jail stay in New Mexico.
An American Airlines flyer says the carrier blamed him for a duty free store robbery before his flight, leading to an extended stay in a New Mexico jail, and wants restitution.

 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports Michael Lowe filed a lawsuit against the Fort Worth-based company, claiming they were responsible for an arrest warrant leading to his detention for over two weeks in a New Mexico jail.

 

Lowe Claims American Blamed Him for Robbery, Resulting in Arrest

According to Lowe’s account, he was a flyer aboard an American flight departing Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in May 2020. On the same day, an unknown traveler shoplifted from an airport duty free store. Using in-store cameras, police allegedly determined the suspect later boarded an American flight to Reno, Nevada.

 

When airport police went to American to collect passenger information and surveillance video, Lowe alleges the carrier “departed from its established procedures” and instead only provided his information. He claims this resulted in two warrants being issued in his name, on which he was arrested over a year later in New Mexico.

 

As a result of the alleged mix-up, Lowe says he was forced to spend 17 days in the Quay County, New Mexico jail during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says the time in police custody left him in a “constant state of fear of confrontation, physical abuse or sexual victimization.”

 

Once he was released, Lowe says he was able to contact an airport police detective, but instead of providing case information, he claims they only told him his information was provided by American. After retaining an attorney, the charges against him were ultimately dropped.

 

The flyer is seeking restitution from American over the way he was treated while in custody, and for lasting mental health effects from being in jail. Lowe is also seeing reimbursement for a two-week tour of Alaska he was forced to miss, costing him around $30,000 in lost wages.

 

In a statement to the newspaper, an American spokesperson said the airline was reviewing the lawsuit.

 

Lawsuit is Latest Bad Experience Accusation for American

The court case is the second accusation lobbed at American in June 2022 over a bad passenger experience. Earlier in the month, a business class flyer claims he was served a meal with bugs inside while flying from Germany to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

3 Comments
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nyc10036 June 10, 2022

When these things happen, we sometimes focus too much on "intent" rather than actual damages.  It may very well be true that AA merely made a clerical error and provided pax infor just one person when the request was made by the police for the entire list of passengers. The recipient of this "one name" list should have perhaps realized that the remainder of the pax info was missing--but s/he didn't. The NM police, to top it all off, seems to have mishandled the entire case rather dramatically.  Still, it is entirely feasible that nobody had any ill-intentions against Mr. Lowe...but that is pretty much irrelevant here.  If I had to spend 17 days in jail for somebody's incompetence, I am not going to "get over it" without seeking both compensatory and punitive damages.

It is entirely possible that this unfortunate series of events occurred as a result of incompetence, gross negligence, etc. by multiple individuals and entities involved, but the fact remains that Mr. Lowe had to spend 17 days in jail.  SEVENTEEN DAYS.  No matter how you paint this case, Mr. Lowe, for sure, should be able to recover damages.

It sounds like all parties names in this suit have been grossly negligent in some capacity, perhaps some more so than others, but that is enough for him to collect (hopefully significant) punitive damages, as well.

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northernlights1 June 9, 2022

Sometimes life ain't fair dude. Get over it. 

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SomeguyinDFW June 9, 2022

This story, based on allegations, has lots of holes in it. From a legal standpoint, it's hard to see how (even taking the allegations as true) American could have foreseen that the New Mexico (and even DFW) authorities would have been so derelict in their most basic of duties. 

I get why he sued American, including that American can't assert immunity, but he has a really steep uphill climb to tag American with any significant liability. And that's assuming he can shore up all of the holes in his story.

That said, it seems clear this guy got screwed, even if there isn't a certain legal remedy for the screwjob.