The Taking of Jetblue 1324 | Cup of Joe
“We're gonna go all the way with this, take it to trial and not stop unless they cut a check that looks like a phone number!" - Lawyer for passenger forcibly restrained and removed from plane.
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This week’s case is about a passenger who sued an airline for injuries he suffered while being restrained during a flight from Mexico City to Orlando, Florida.
The passenger’s name is Moshe Berlin; the airline is JetBlue. And this is what happened 20 minutes after takeoff on JetBlue Flight 1324:
FLIGHT ATTENDANT KEVIN: It was less than a half hour after takeoff when I noticed that Berlin fell to the floor, and then he stood up quickly, charged at me, swore at me, and shouted “allahu akbar” and “death to America.”
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Did Berlin do anything after that?
KEVIN: Berlin then grabbed the handle to one of the aircraft doors and kicked at it while I attempted to subdue him. Berlin stated he had a bomb in his bag and “it will go boom!”
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What did you observe in the cabin just after takeoff?
FLIGHT ATTENDANT PHYLLIS: Berlin had collapsed in the aisle and then, we hurried over to him and as he regained consciousness, he was shoving and resisting our help, and yelling for oxygen and asking for air. He continued resisting and wrestling with Kevin.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT MARY: He was banging and pulling and head butting the double jump seat, aircraft right. He was using his legs and his fists and was very hard to restrain and he kicked me.
KEVIN: Eventually, with the help of several passengers, we were able to control Berlin. We restrained him with airline-issued handcuffs and supplemented those with seatbelt extensions. During this entire time, Berlin continued ranting and tried to break free.
MARY: After things settled down, four people, two passengers as well as Kevin and Phyl, had to remain with Berlin, who continued to be combative and cry out “ISIS.”
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And then?
MARY: Two JetBlue pilots sitting in the cabin were asked to guard the door to the flight deck for the remainder of the flight. The rear galley and lavatories were closed, and passengers were allowed to use the front lavatory one at a time.
BERLIN: I felt nervous from the outset of the flight because my carry-on bag, which contained his medications, including Klonopin, which “relaxes” me when I travel, was placed in an overhead bin far from my seat.
I remember going into my seat, and putting on my seatbelt, and I was starting to feel my very, very bad chest pains; my chest was racing, I couldn't breathe, I was gasping for air, and reached out and tried to get somebody's attention for a drink, or to get some ice.
I asked for some, for a drink, for ice, I remember somebody bringing me something to drink. I didn't feel good ....I got up from my chair because I felt like I can't take it any more, I felt like I'm going to literally die if I don't get help. So I walked to the back of the plane ....”
BERLIN’S ATTORNEY: What happened next?
BERLIN: The crewmembers assaulted me because they mistook me for a terrorist. I made a second request for ‘ICES' pointing to my throat. And then someone in the crew said “Mr. Berlin is saying ‘ISIS'” – And then I was brutally assaulted. The crew began beating me, giving me multiple punches – like about 15 to 20 punches -- to my face damaging my left eye and mouth breaking my teeth.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Isn’t it true that you stated at your deposition that as you walked in the aisle, you “asked for oxygen” because you couldn't breathe and thought you were “having a heart attack”; then “the next thing I know” is that you “fell on the floor,” you “collapsed on the floor or something”?
BERLIN: Yes! Yes! A crew member whose name tag was Kevin punched me and he kept on pushing my head towards, down towards the floor, and punching me on my face many times. My eye was swollen, and three of my teeth were knocked out.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Isn’t it true that you have bipolar disorder.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Isn’t it also true that you told a forensic psychologist that prior to boarding Flight 1324, you had slept for no more than a few hours total over a four-day period. And that although you told the psychologist that your medication was stolen approximately two weeks before you went to Mexico, authorities found several prescription medications in your suitcase, including clonazepam, benzotropine, and Latuda, as well as the lithium that you had not taken for ten days?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And that while in Mexico, you had also gone to night clubs and had used marijuana.
BERLIN: This is also true.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And did you not also testify at your deposition that you in fact did not remember what happened between the time you blacked out with Mary by your side and the time you regained consciousness in the rear of the aircraft.?
BERLIN: If that’s what it says I said, then, yes.
BERLIN: Yes. And the case was dismissed -- I was found NOT GUILTY.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: NOT GUILTY…And that was Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity?
BERLIN: Correct -- Although I felt I was innocent of the charge, a plea of NGROI became a means to an end that secured my release from federal confinement.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Just one last issue: your injuries, Mr. Berlin. Law enforcement and emergency medical services met the plane upon landing and escorted you from the flight?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And you initially declined treatment?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And the EMT’s reported: “Patient relates he has no medical complaints at this time.” That was about you, right?
BERLIN: Yes, but I later changed my mind and asked to be transported to Florida Hospital.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. And the hospital's records note mild pain, “no acute distress, ” and no dental injury, correct?
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Those records also note that you were exhibiting “grandiose” thinking.
BERLIN: I don’t think I was.
After the criminal case was dismissed, Berlin found a lawyer to sue JetBlue for injuries he suffered during this entire ordeal. And that is what this case study is about. You have read the versions of what happened aboard Flight 1324. So:
HOW DO YOU RULE?
If you rule that Berlin was telling the truth, he wins. The case will be over and he gets no money. If you rule that JetBlue was telling the truth OR you cannot decide who was telling the truth, JetBlue wins and he gets no money.
What's the outcome? Make your decision and let us know on social media!
BERLIN WINS - It is more likely that Berlin’s version is what happened
JETBLUE WINS - It is more likely that JetBlue’s version is what happened OR you cannot decide which version actually took place aboard Flight 1324)
HOW DID THE COURT RULE?
JUDGE: Here, the treatment records render Berlin's testimony incredible. For instance, Berlin complained of broken teeth he asserted were kicked out during the flight. This claim is nowhere corroborated by contemporaneous medical records. Berlin was treated by Orlando EMTs, Florida Hospital East, and Maimonides in New York, and their records make no reference to dental injury or broken teeth.
Given that Berlin's position is based only on his own testimony, and his testimony suffers from important gaps, contortions and reversals, he cannot overcome judgment against him.
BERLIN’S CASE IS DISMISSED. And Berlin will not receive a settlement check that looks like a phone number or even an area code.
Justice served? Let us know how you did - and what you think.
Read the full case here.
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