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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Aviation and the Law

Motion(s) To Dismiss

Captain Janning, as a First Officer, had to live through the horrific experience of her captain completely disrobing and masterbating in the cockpit then throwing his semen soaked napkin on her. You can read the story at The Landing or read the full Complaint Here. But last Thursday, October 12, I joined them in court as attorney's from SWAPA and SWA came together with Judge Eric Netcher. This was a public trial in the ninth circuit via Webex. As a last minute thought, I posted the invite on Twitter with the call in number, and as a result people who were not able to attend, asked me what happened. 

Before you read this, if you're unaware of this case, watch the Maximum Video Here . This is priceless. 

  This was a sporty hour!


At the beginning, Katie Molloy the SWA Attorney confirmed that the Christine added to her complaint that Captain Haak said he was going to crash the airplane and she therefore felt fear for her life and the lives of her passengers. Then SWA attorney Katie Molloy argued that: 

"Going out with a bang' is not an intent to commit harm 
and therefore no assault has been pled." 

In view of what happened with the Germanwings pilot who crashed his plane, killing everyone on board, because he knew he would never fly again, I might believe a statement made by a naked captain playing with himself in the flight deck, who had just bolted the door. His comment could be construed with intent to commit harm. His behavior was so outrageous, fulfilling his threat to cause harm was not out of the realm of possibility. 

The FBI uses reg flag words that identify a probable threat, and I suspect if they heard this statement, "Going out with a bang" on an airplane, by a pilot, would be enough for an investigation. 


Molloy then argued that being struck in the arm with the napkin covered in seminal fluid had no essential element of “intent to harm” for a successful battery claim. She said his intent was to throw it into the garbage and he accidentally hit her with it.

I'm wondering if a kid was standing by a garbage can and an adult threw their scalding cup of coffee at the garbage can but missed, hitting the little one, would that person be exempt from causing harm? Interesting enough, I did a little research and learned that in jail it's illegal to throw body fluids at someone. Why? Because they are detained and can't get away and just being exposed to bodily fluids (without actual contact) is considered a third degree felony of battery in the state of Florida. I would suspect a flight deck is in sense could be considered similar to a prison being the pilots are locked in and cannot flee. 

I'm also not sure about other pilots, but never in my 40 years of aviation experience have I ever been hit with garbage that was intended for the garbage can. Those bags are to the side, but actually behind the pilot. I would assert, based upon my experience, that he was not aiming for the trash. 


The SWA argument is that Haak locked the door from the inside to prevent others from coming in, not to confine Janning or prevent her from leaving. That bolt lock was at the top of the door. Haak moved from his seat to the jump seat with his naked legs blocking the door, he then stood naked, and blocked the door. He just didn't masterbate in his seat, he was all over the place. Regardless, the SWA argument is suggesting Janning could have gotten up and left. I'm not even going to justify that with an argument of my own. But I will say this: 

SWA, You Should Thank Christine
Not defend Haak's behavior. 

Had Christine got up and left that flight deck, after he was back in his seat, we could be reading a completely different story. Close to 80 people could have perished on that flight, along with those on the ground, if Haak followed through with his threat of going out with a bang. The passengers on SWA Flight 6607, on August 10, 2020, from Philadelphia to Orlando, should also thank Christine for enduring what she did on their behalf. If they knew what was ongoing in that flightdeck, I believe they would have a multi plaintiff lawsuit as well. 


The Conspiracy to Retaliate was argued by both SWA and SWAPA attorneys, Katie Molloy and Ellen Belfer, respectively, in that there could not be a conspiracy to retaliate because of an inter-corporate conspiracy doctrine, because they are all the “SAME corporate identity” and “there is no third party.” 

Regardless of this argument, a union and a company are two completely different companies. But I find this argument humorous because both SWAPA and SWA are admitting they work together as one. Would that mean that ALPA is the same entity with United, Delta and all others they represent? I find Christine's argument of conspiracy brilliant, because, from my experience, even when the union and company admit to being on the same side, you can't win a DFR.



By the time Ellen chimed in, she stated that not everyone at the hearing had stated their appearance. She said, "I see there is George G a Karlene Petitt and a B." This reminded me of my first day of my trial when Ira Rosenstein, Delta's attorney, said, "Your honor, who are all these people. We don't know who they are." Judge Morris told him that this was a public trial and it was not necessary to know. 

Well, this, too, was a public hearing, but Judge Netcher said he was fine with that, and he started with Carly, who was Belfer's partner. Then Netcher told us he got notification that B left the meeting, and couldn't tell us who B was. He said, "They left after learning that they were going to be identified, so we have somebody monitoring us apparently." I'm curious what monitoring means, if you are watching a public hearing. 

Then Belfer identified all client representatives for SWAPA and said, "Petitt and somebody else just left, so it looks like the only one unknown is still in the meeting."  The judge asked me if I wanted to make an appearance and I said, "Hi, I'm Karlene Petitt." He then asked if I was representing any parties. I told him I was not representing any parties but just observing the case . Then Netcher said, "OK this is a public proceeding so I will mute you and we will proceed." They did not ask any of the additional phone numbers that had called in as I think there were phone numbers listed, without names. 


The entire point of this hearing was that SWAPA and SWA are trying to block discovery. They want to dismiss the claim before discovery is obtained. Of course they do. 

When Janning's attorney discussed the conspiracy charge, Judge Eric Netcher called it a "stretch". He said that, "Even if people have gotten into a room and said hey if we send this letter I bet he’ll get a misdemeanor and then if she files a lawsuit she won’t be able to get summary judgement."

Frank Podesta, Janning's attorney argued that intent was not necessary, what mattered was what had occurred.  

The Judge argued that it was a conspiracy claim. Then he went on to say that people would have to go in a room, make a decision to do something that would negatively impact Janning. Frank responded that the distinction he was trying to make was that they intended to falsely provide information to the FBI to protect Michael Haak, as a conspiracy, to protect male pilots and that had a negative effect on Janning. 

Judge Eric Netcher then said in a mocking tone that they.... duped a federal judge into excepting something... and he tried to explain that there is a whole process to prevent that and the reason for criminal proceedings.  Frank Podesta said that they plead it and could prove it in a summary judgement but they are not being allowed evidence. 

Why would someone not be allowed evidence?

Judge Eric Netcher 
Circuit Judge at the 9th Circuit
Orlando Florida

Prior to being a Judge, Eric Netcher was a partner in the law firm, Dean Ringers Morgan & Lawton, from Nov 2018 - Jan 2020. What's most interesting is that he conducted all workers comp claims in Florida on behalf of SWA. I'm quite surprised that he did not recuse himself. However, if that he doesn't believe in conspiracies, perhaps he's not part of one, and will do the right thing. I pray he will do the right thing because I'm beginning to believe there is no justice. 

Being that this was a Public Hearing, the Judge was located in Florida, and there was no confidential information disclosed, and a court reporter, employed by SWA, was typing away, and the Judge did not state he did not want a recording, I did just that. 

If you would like to have a listen to the hearing if you were unable to make it to this public trial, you can listen hear: Public Hearing Motion to Dismiss The hearing lasted one hour. 

The only way Justice is served is if discovery is allowed. I pray this will be the case. 

Enjoy the Journey
Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727

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