Michael Lowe of Arizona says his life was changed after he spent 17 days in a New Mexico jail because American Airlines wrongfully identified him to police as a shoplifter at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Lowe boarded a flight at DFW Airport in May 2020. More than a year later,, he was on vacation in New Mexico when he was arrested on warrants he had never heard of for a crime he did not commit. For more than two weeks, Lowe was held in Quay County Jail at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in “grossly unsanitary conditions,” charges a lawsuit he filed this week. Lowe said he didn’t even find out what he was charged with until after his release. “I’ve never heard of this fact pattern in my life or my career,” said Lowe’s attorney, Scott Palmer. “If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.”
The lawsuit names American Airlines as the sole defendant. For 17 days, Lowe says he was traumatized repeatedly by the conditions at the jail. He slept on the concrete floor, but did not get much rest due to his “constant state of fear of confrontation, physical abuse or sexual victimization.” The suit describes the violent outbursts in the packed unit that “arose over any trivial act.” Lowe saw a young man punched in the face three times, he said, and the streak of blood remained on the wall for days. Lowe’s suit accuses American Airlines of negligence for wrongfully identifying him. American could have given police the list of passengers, as police had requested, and instead the airline chose to conduct “its own negligent investigation,” Lowe’s attorney said.