A Delta Airlines passenger who was falsely arrested for drug smuggling at JFK airport was awarded 759k US$ compensation by a New York jury after filing a lawsuit against the airline.
One of the airlines baggage handlers at Guyana airport where the Delta flight originated had planted the drugs in the passengers baggage and marked it for the goods to be picked up by accomplices in the US.
The unsuspecting passenger was questioned by customs who subsequently found the drugs and arrested him for the offense. He spent one day in custody and later the authorities were able to confirm the suitcase had been tampered with.
New York Daily News (access here) reported about it.
A Brooklyn jury ordered Delta Airlines to pay $759,000 in damages to a security guard who was arrested after a nefarious baggage handler planted cocaine in his suitcase.
“I must give praise and thanks to God!” a beaming Roger Levans said outside Brooklyn Federal Court Thursday, after the jury deliberated only two hours and found the airline was negligent.
When he was stopped in Kennedy Airport back in January 2011 after a Delta flight from Guyana, Levans told Customs officers he was bringing back “cooked rabbit.” He was arrested after officers found three bricks of cocaine alongside the food in his suitcase. …
But while Levans was free on bail, the feds determined that his bag was indeed tampered with after he had checked his luggage.
This for sure took some time to be resolved considering the incident itself took place in early 2011. Almost 5 years!! But what happened back then?
A corrupt baggage handler apparently tied a ribbon to the suitcase containing the illicit drugs so it would be recognized by an accomplice in New York City, according to court papers.
The security guard spent one day in jail and was booted from his job at Yankees Stadium.
This is a terrible thing because he was fired from his job without even being found guilty of any crime. At least he got some compensation for it at last.
It’s fairly common that passengers are reminded not to accept baggage or packages from anyone they don’t know. In this case however items were planted by an insider without the knowledge of the passenger. The easiest to prevent things like this is by using locks and suitcases without outside pockets. It also prevents pilferage.
It’s hard to say how Delta or any airline for that matter could have prevented this. You can’t oversee each employees action all the time by a superior o CCTV and even that wouldn’t have been a guarantee to avoid the planting. The same goes for background checks of employees and let’s not forget this took place in Guyana. Would I say Delta is responsible? Yes. But negligent in the strictest meaning of the word… likely not.