Hog Ties, Duct Tape, and Airlines: Lawyers at Console & Hollawell Discuss Liability Concerns over Restraining Passengers Mid-Flight

Passengers on an Icelandair flight bound for New York subdued a fellow traveler who became aggressive, reportedly duct-taping him to his chair, according to a CNN report. The passenger, who allegedly spat at those around him, screamed profanities, and tried to choke the woman next to him, was met by police at John F. Kennedy Airport after the plane landed.

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If an emergency situation were to occur, let’s say the plane needed to make a water landing, how were they planning on getting him out of there?

Marlton, NJ (PRWEB) January 15, 2013

Passengers on an Icelandair flight bound for New York subdued a fellow traveler who became aggressive, reportedly duct-taping him to his chair, according to a CNN report. The passenger, who allegedly spat at those around him, screamed profanities, and tried to choke the woman next to him, was met by police at John F. Kennedy Airport after the plane landed. Crew members have an obligation to protect passengers onboard, and in hostile situations must decide the safest route to stop potential violence before it starts. Forcibly restraining a passenger is clearly one of the last resorts available to prevent harm. However, the tactic raises questions about the dangers of restraints in emergency situations, and how crew members determine when greater force is appropriate. Personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr. considers air travel a unique situation.

“This is an extreme case where a passenger was an obvious threat to everyone else on the aircraft, though the images of the man tied up present a number of issues,” he said. “If an emergency situation were to occur, let’s say the plane needed to make a water landing, how were they planning on getting him out of there? The aggressor could very easily become the victim in any number of circumstances.”

Flight attendants and other crew members operating in the United States receive training in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations in preparation for emergency situations, including unruly passengers. One flight attendant, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained that the primary duty of crew members is to maintain the safety of those on board.

“When you have an aggressive passenger on a flight, clear communication between crew members makes all the difference,” the flight attendant said. “Inform the captain of the situation and divert the aircraft to land as soon as possible. Informing an unruly passenger that we’re diverting and ruining everyone’s travel plans because of them tends to calm the person down fast.”

The man on the Icelandair flight wasn’t charged in connection with the events that allegedly took place while the plane was in the air. Authorities reportedly took the passenger, who hasn’t been identified, to an area hospital. Console, whose personal injury law firm has been helping accident victims since 1994, cautioned that passengers should always allow trained professionals to assess the situation before taking matters into their own hands.

“Passengers still have civil rights and could sustain injuries if they’re restrained by those without specific training or for long periods of time,” said Console. “How do you decide someone needs to be restrained? The liability becomes far murkier if crew members decide to tie-up a passenger who may not have been truly aggressive and that person suffers some type of injury as a result. Everyone deserves a safe environment while traveling, especially at high altitude.”

Richard P. Console Jr., the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C., has helped more than 5,000 accident victims across Pennsylvania and New Jersey obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/04/travel/iceland-disruptive-passenger/index.html