A former professional NHL ice hockey player has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court claiming an “out-of-control” flight attendant subjected him to an unprovoked battery before throwing him off a recent flight from Kansas City to Phoenix. Jean-Francois Jomphe, 48, of Ladera Ranch, California is claiming as much as $100,000 in damages against American Airlines for battery and emotional distress.
In the late 1990s, Jomphe played for the NHL’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Phoenix Coyotes, as well as the Montreal Canadiens before finishing his hockey-playing career playing in various minor leagues. Now retired, Jomphe is an “established businessman” and has corporate headquarters based in Phoenix.
On July 22, 2021, Jomphe was traveling to Phoenix on business as a passenger on American Airlines flight AA2005 from Kansas City. Sat at a bulkhead, Jomphe says he rested his foot on the bulkhead partition because he is recovering from recent leg surgery and needed to elevate his leg.
As a frequent flyer who always sits in the same seat, he says he has rested his leg on the bulkhead without incident on a weekly basis. In fact, Jomphe claims he has flown with American Airlines around 66 times in 2021 alone and has never had problems resting his feet on the bulkhead wall.
But while the plane was still at the gate, Jomphe says he was subjected to an “unprovoked battery” when a flight attendant hit him “very hard” on the left shoulder and told him to remove his feet from the bulkhead.
Jomphe says he complied with the demand but “to make matters worse, following the battery, the flight attendant caused Jomphe to be removed from the flight by presumably making a false report to the flight’s captain,” the lawsuit claims.
“Likely some fabricated claim that he was ‘disruptive’.”
Jomphe says that he told the flight attendant that he needs to rest his foot on the wall in order to prevent blood clots and when asked why he was being told to remove his feet from the bulkhead, the flight attendant allegedly replied: “Because I said so”.
Around five minutes later, Jomphe was removed from the plane by an AA ground manager who told him he was being offloaded because the flight attendant and Captain didn’t want him on their flight.
The manager also claimed he “did not respect Federal Action Administration rules”.
With no other direct flights available for the day, AA rerouted Jomphe to Orange County airport via a stop in Dallas. Jomphe says he missed all of his scheduled business meetings for the day which caused “serious disruption” to his business.
He now claims to have suffered physical pain in his left shoulder, as well as extreme embarrassment and emotional distress.
Jomphe is suing American Airlines and the flight attendant for battery and intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
The lawsuit claims the defendants “conduct was so severe and outrageous that as a proximate result Plaintiff (Jomphe) suffered humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress.”
“There have been many news reports lately about passengers behaving badly on commercial airline flights. The seeming rise in these cases is unquestionably regrettable. This case, however, arises from conduct on commercial flights that often does not make the news – extreme and outrageous conduct by out-of-control flight attendants.” the suit reads.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division on September 7. Jomphe has requested a jury trial. Case number: 8:21-cv-01458
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.