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Passenger Who Went Viral After Being Duct-Taped To Airplane Seat Is Sued For Nearly $82k
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Passenger Who Went Viral After Being Duct-Taped To Airplane Seat Is Sued For Nearly $82k

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A woman from San Antonio, USA, who went viral on social media after allegedly causing total chaos on an airplane back in July 2021, prompting her to be handcuffed and duct-taped to a seat, is now being sued by the federal government for nearly $82,000.

The woman, who has been identified as Heather E. Wells, was filmed three years ago on a flight wearing a purple blouse, her hair dyed green, and her mouth covered with tape.

Highlights
  • Heather E. Wells from San Antonio faces an $82,000 lawsuit for causing chaos on a flight in July 2021.
  • Wells was duct-taped and handcuffed on the flight after attempting to open the front cabin door and assaulting flight attendants.
  • The FAA seeks nearly $82,000 in civil penalties, the largest ever against an individual passenger.

The suit, filed in San Antonio’s federal court by U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), seeks to collect $81,950 in civil penalties from the 34-year-old troublesome traveler, the San Antonio Express-News reported on Tuesday (June 11).

The FAA reportedly fined Wells that amount in 2022, a record penalty against an individual passenger. 

34-year-old Heather E. Wells from San Antonio, USA, went viral after allegedly causing total chaos on an airplane back in July 2021

Image credits: Donna White

According to the lawsuit, the disturber was a business-class passenger aboard American Airlines flight 1774, en route late at night from Dallas to Charlotte, North Carolina, between July 6 and 7, 2021.

The suit read: “Over an hour into the flight, and after ordering a Jack Daniels (neat) during the beverage service, Defendant became increasingly agitated and ‘wanted out’ of the plane.

“She left her seat and began moving and/or running toward the rear of the aircraft, before going to her knees in the aisle.”

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Image credits: Dallas

“She remained there shortly, talking incoherently to passengers, before crawling back toward the main cabin.”

When a flight attendant tried to intervene, Wells told the airline worker she would “hurt him” if he didn’t get out of her way, the suit said. 

As per Express-News, the agitated passenger went on to push the flight attendant aside before moving to the front of the aircraft. 

Wells ended up being handcuffed and duct-taped to an airplane seat

Image credits: Dallas

There, Wells attempted to grab the handle of the front cabin door as she screamed and yelled profanities, the lawsuit said.

The legal document further detailed that two flight attendants and a passenger physically restrained her.

While struggling to limit her mobility, Wells reportedly struck a flight attendant in the head multiple times.

The suit noted: “Ultimately, the flight attendants and passenger were able to restrain Defendant with duct tape and flex cuffs and get her seated. 

“After she was seated, Defendant continued to kick and spit and attempted to bite and head-butt a flight attendant and passengers. 

“This necessitated Defendant to be further restrained to her seat by tape, along with her mouth, but even this was ineffective to stop her from screaming and cursing throughout the remainder of the flight.”

The woman now faces a $82,000 lawsuit

American Airlines flight crew duct taped a woman to her seat to stop her from trying to open the plane door while in flight
byu/whovehearted inDallas

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Consequently, pilots radioed the city of Charlotte, directing airport personnel to notify the police. Law enforcement officers were waiting when the plane landed in North Carolina, Express-News reported.

However, upon the plane’s arrival at its gate, Wells managed to free her feet, subsequently kicking away.

The suit detailed that a flight attendant and passenger restrained her once again before law officers eventually boarded the plane and decided to unload the rest of the passengers first.

Wells is not the first passenger to be duct-taped in an airplane

The legal document read: “Defendant continued to violently kick and broke the seat in front of her.

“Ultimately, Defendant had to be sedated to be removed from the aircraft by law enforcement and medical responders.”

Wells has been reportedly summoned to answer the lawsuit, which alleges she violated federal aviation rules by trying to access the flight cabin, interfering with the duties of the flight crew, threatening the crew, and posing an imminent threat to the safety of the aircraft or individuals on the aircraft.

American Airlines said at the time that she had been banned from its flights but did not say for how long, Express-News reported.

“Your flight attendants should be given an award,” a reader commented

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Andréa Oldereide

Andréa Oldereide

Writer, BoredPanda staff

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I’m a journalist who works for Bored Panda’s News Team. The team, which has been launched on the website fairly recently, produces stories focused on pop culture. Whenever I get the opportunity and the time, I investigate and produce my own exclusive stories, where I get to explore a wider range of topics. Some examples include: “Doberman Tobias the viral medical service dog” and “The lawyer who brought rare uterine cancer that affects 9/11 victims to light”.

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Andréa Oldereide

Andréa Oldereide

Writer, BoredPanda staff

I’m a journalist who works for Bored Panda’s News Team. The team, which has been launched on the website fairly recently, produces stories focused on pop culture. Whenever I get the opportunity and the time, I investigate and produce my own exclusive stories, where I get to explore a wider range of topics. Some examples include: “Doberman Tobias the viral medical service dog” and “The lawyer who brought rare uterine cancer that affects 9/11 victims to light”.

Donata Leskauskaite

Donata Leskauskaite

Author, BoredPanda staff

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Hey there! I'm a Visual Editor in News team. My responsibility is to ensure that you can read the story not just through text, but also through photos. I get to work with a variety of topics ranging from celebrity drama to mind-blowing Nasa cosmic news. And let me tell you, that's what makes this job an absolute blast! Outside of work, you can find me sweating it out in dance classes or unleashing my creativity by drawing and creating digital paintings of different characters that lives in my head. I also love spending time outdoors and play board games with my friends.

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Donata Leskauskaite

Donata Leskauskaite

Author, BoredPanda staff

Hey there! I'm a Visual Editor in News team. My responsibility is to ensure that you can read the story not just through text, but also through photos. I get to work with a variety of topics ranging from celebrity drama to mind-blowing Nasa cosmic news. And let me tell you, that's what makes this job an absolute blast! Outside of work, you can find me sweating it out in dance classes or unleashing my creativity by drawing and creating digital paintings of different characters that lives in my head. I also love spending time outdoors and play board games with my friends.

What do you think?
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laura_ketteridge avatar
arthbach
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Reading this, my first thoughts were, "Oooh, how awful it must have been for the staff and passengers on the flight. I'm glad everything worked out okay." However, my second thoughts were, "This is way beyond normal behaviour There's something wrong here. What as she thinking, what was wrong?" I've no idea if this was due to d***s, or medical problems, but it really sounds like she needs to be medically assessed. Taking her to court might be the way to ensure that medical assessment is carried out, but if she has medical problems, she needs help, not a huge fine.

burnerburnsy2 avatar
Comfortably Numb
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Everyone trying to, for some reason, defend this women is making assumptions and creating their own narrative. It wasn't long ago, think back to just how many people were doing this crazy stuff on airplanes through covids worst times. Over wearing masks. Or delayed flights. I'm sure she does have some MH issues for sure, but that's her responsibility to fix and control, and there's no reason to feel bad for a women who was so vile she was duct tapped to a plane seat, including head and mouth. If we continue to defend terrible people because of made up reasons, the world is going to be a much more scary place in the near future.

laura_ketteridge avatar
arthbach
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Comfortably Numb, the world is a much scarier place when people are devoid of kindness, and automatically assume the worst. This story does not come across as 'a woman so vile she was duct tapped to a plane seat', but more 'a woman who was able to exert so little control over herself that she was putting herself, and others in danger.' It's not a story of a person being a prize jerk, but someone who was engaged in extremely worrying behaviours. There's a huge difference between the two.

Load More Replies...
mmcc avatar
M McC
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The fact that people who are mentally ill are treated like pariahs in the US should be a source of great shame. She probably didn’t get the help she needed BEFORE she set foot on that flight. The broken healthcare system is also to blame along with the broken social contract.

Load More Comments
laura_ketteridge avatar
arthbach
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Reading this, my first thoughts were, "Oooh, how awful it must have been for the staff and passengers on the flight. I'm glad everything worked out okay." However, my second thoughts were, "This is way beyond normal behaviour There's something wrong here. What as she thinking, what was wrong?" I've no idea if this was due to d***s, or medical problems, but it really sounds like she needs to be medically assessed. Taking her to court might be the way to ensure that medical assessment is carried out, but if she has medical problems, she needs help, not a huge fine.

burnerburnsy2 avatar
Comfortably Numb
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Everyone trying to, for some reason, defend this women is making assumptions and creating their own narrative. It wasn't long ago, think back to just how many people were doing this crazy stuff on airplanes through covids worst times. Over wearing masks. Or delayed flights. I'm sure she does have some MH issues for sure, but that's her responsibility to fix and control, and there's no reason to feel bad for a women who was so vile she was duct tapped to a plane seat, including head and mouth. If we continue to defend terrible people because of made up reasons, the world is going to be a much more scary place in the near future.

laura_ketteridge avatar
arthbach
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Comfortably Numb, the world is a much scarier place when people are devoid of kindness, and automatically assume the worst. This story does not come across as 'a woman so vile she was duct tapped to a plane seat', but more 'a woman who was able to exert so little control over herself that she was putting herself, and others in danger.' It's not a story of a person being a prize jerk, but someone who was engaged in extremely worrying behaviours. There's a huge difference between the two.

Load More Replies...
mmcc avatar
M McC
Community Member
1 month ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The fact that people who are mentally ill are treated like pariahs in the US should be a source of great shame. She probably didn’t get the help she needed BEFORE she set foot on that flight. The broken healthcare system is also to blame along with the broken social contract.

Load More Comments
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