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Pilot attacked by drunken co-worker eligible only for comp benefits

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An airline pilot attacked by a drunken flight crew member while on an overnight layover in Chicago cannot sue the hotel or other parties, but he is eligible for workers compensation, according to a federal appeals court.

A federal judge tossed out the lawsuit filed by Martyn Baylay, a British pilot, against his employer Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-based Etihad Airways, his attacker who hit him with a hotel decoration and corporate entities behind The Westin hotel in Chicago, according to documents in Martyn Barley v. Etihad Airways P.J.S.C., Saravdeep Mann, and 909 North Michigan Avenue Corp. and LHO Michigan Avenue Freezeout L.L.C.

Mr. Baylay and his co-worker Mr. Mann had been on a layover in Chicago following a flight from Abu Dhabi in 2013. The pair, along with other co-workers, ventured out to dinner, where the incident unfolded, according to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruling issued Wednesday.

“The crewmembers drank pre-dinner cocktails together that night, where (Mr.) Mann consumed a significant amount. It appeared to (Mr.) Baylay that he had imbibed before meeting the group, too. At dinner, (Mr.) Mann downed even more alcohol and then expressed anti-American and anti-British views while emphasizing his distaste for the British by placing his hands around (Mr.) Baylay’s throat.”

The attack continued later when “back at the hotel, (Mr.) Baylay heard a knock on the door of his hotel room and saw (Mr.) Mann standing outside his room. Thinking (Mr.) Mann was there to apologize for his earlier actions and collect his coat, (Mr.) Baylay opened the door. (Mr.) Mann struck him on the head and leg with a bronze hotel decoration.”

During the attack, Mr. Mann threatened Mr. Baylay with his life, according to court documents. 

The pilot managed to escape, took the elevator to the lobby of the hotel and was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. His attacker was arrested and transported to the Chicago Police Department.

In 2016, Mr. Baylay filed his lawsuit in federal court alleging negligence, among other claims. The court subsequently dismissed all his claims against his employer “on the basis that the claims should be heard by the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission instead,” according to court records.

Mr. Baylay appealed that decision, but the Court of Appeals affirmed those dismissals.

“The (Illinois workers compensation code) exclusivity provisions apply, so the commission must hear the claims,” the appeals court stated, adding, “the Illinois Workers Compensation Act provides an administrative remedy for employees’ injuries ‘arising out of and in the course of (their) employment.’” Furthermore, the law “abrogates employer liability for all common law negligence claims,” the court stated.