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Continental Airlines Sues Pilot's Vengeful Ex-Wife for Baking Him Bread Laced with Marijuana


February 1997

Continental Airlines is suing Deborah Loeding for causing them to unjustly fire her ex-husband, William Loeding, a Continental co-pilot, and for endangering the lives of its passengers (Natalie Pompilio, "Airline sues reinstated pilot's ex-wife," Philadelphia Inquirer, January 9, 1997, p. B3; "Marijuana Incident," USA Today, January 9, 1997, p. 4A; Robert Rudolph, "Continental sues over pilot who was slipped some stoned rye," Star-Ledge (Newark, NJ), January 9, 1997, p. 2; Charles Boisseau, "Continental sues pilot's ex, says she laced bread with pot," Houston Chronicle, January 9, 1997, p. 1C).

William Loeding failed a random drug test on July 28, 1994, two days after he ate rye bread baked by his ex-wife. Immediately, Continental fired the 10-year veteran pilot, who protested he had not used drugs. The pilot filed a grievance with his union, and his first two appeals were denied. At a third hearing in October 1996, Deborah Loeding confessed to lacing the rye bread with marijuana.

Continental's lawsuit, filed on January 8, contends that the ex-wife's vengeful act was intended "to cause Pilot Loeding significant distress in his personal and professional life." Continental wants Deborah Loeding to pay for legal expenses it incurred because of the incident, and punitive damages for endangering passengers' lives and for the loss of the pilot's services for two years. Loeding was reinstated in October 1996. The airline would not say how many flights Loeding co-piloted during the two days before the drug test. Continental spokeswoman, Sarah Anthony, said "there is absolutely no indication whatsoever that he was impaired while on duty." (Query: So how were Continental's passengers endangered? -- EES)