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Two JetBlue flight attendants are suing the airline in federal court in New York, saying two JetBlue pilots drugged them and raped one of the women and another crew member while on a layover in Puerto Rico in 2018.
The complaint also alleges that after the women approached the airline to complain, JetBlue did not take any disciplinary action against the two pilots. JetBlue, and the two pilots, Eric Johnson and Dan Watson, are all named as defendants in the suit.
According to the court filing, the flight attendants worked a JetBlue flight from Washington, DC, National Airport (DCA) to Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan Puerto Rico (SJU), where they had a layover for one night in May 2018. They, along with another female crewmember, checked into the hotel and then headed out to spend the day on the beach. The suit says Johnson and Watson were seated nearby, and the women began talking to them and realized they were JetBlue pilots.
“After some time,” the suit says that Johnson “handed an opened beer from his lunch box to one of the flight attendants. “She drank some of the beer, handed it to [the other woman] who drank some of the beer and then handed it to the other crewmember, who also drank from the same can. The beer was laced with a drug, and after that point, the rest of the night became a blur.”
One of the women, who is a plaintiff in the case, only remembers being in bed with Johnson on top of her, and she was “unable to react to the situation, but was simply aware it was happening,” the complaint says “due to the influence of the drug.” She also has “flashes of memory” of Johnson raping the other crewmember, who is not a party in the case, and hearing Johnson say “thank you for making my fantasy come true,” the document says.
All three women were “nauseous and each had to use the bathroom to vomit, an effect they had not felt before despite having consumed alcohol previously,” the suit says. At least one of the women says she became afraid she contracted an sexually transmitted disease from the assault and emailed Johnson to ask if he had any STDs. Johnson allegedly responded that he would get tested. Once she was home, the woman went directly to the hospital where she was tested for STDs and, according to the complaint, learned she had contracted human papillomavirus (HPV) from Johnson.
The suit also says the women reported the assault to the airline corporate headquarters in New York, and JetBlue said it would investigate the matter, but no “corrective action” was ever taken.
“The allegations in the complaint are obviously very serious and what happened to these women is horrific, but the bigger concern is how JetBlue handled it and the fact that no corrective action was taken,” the flight attendants’ lawyer, Abe Melamed, told The New York Times. “One of the plaintiffs has continued to bump into one of the pilots and has an immediate visceral reaction and goes to the bathroom and vomits every time it happens,” he said. “They feel like this is a large part of what airline culture is. It lends itself to these sorts of issues.”
TPG‘s request for comment to Melamed by both phone and email went unanswered.
JetBlue did not directly comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.
“While we cannot comment on pending litigation, JetBlue takes allegations of violent or inappropriate behavior very seriously and investigates such claims thoroughly,” the airline told TPG in an emailed statement. “We work to create a respectful workplace for all our crewmembers where they feel welcome and safe.”
The flight attendants who are plaintiffs in the case are asking for unspecified damages amounting to no less than $75,000.
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