Man Jailed in Case of Mistaken Identity Sues American Airlines, Claiming Airline Gave Police Only His Name

Michael Lowe said "jail conditions were horrible" when he was arrested for a crime he did not commit. In his lawsuit, he claims his arrest came after American Airlines gave only his name to police who were looking for a suspect he didn’t look like.

An Arizona man is suing American Airlines after being jailed for more than two weeks in what he claims is a case of mistaken identity due to the airline’s alleged negligence.   

“I’m still dumbfounded about it,” he told Inside Edition.  

The trouble started for Michael Lowe when he was about to board an American Airlines flight at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Texas for Reno, Nevada. Like most passengers, Lowe killed a little time walking through the terminal, checking out some of the stores. 

At the same time, another traveler in the airport stopped by a duty-free kiosk and allegedly stole jewelry. As bad luck would have it, both Lowe and that man boarded the same flight. 

Police obtained a search warrant ordering American Airlines to provide them with travel data it had for passengers on that flight, the lawsuit said. 

And according to a lawsuit Lowe has filed against American Airlines, the airline handed over just a single name—his—even though he looked nothing like the other man who was caught on camera. 

Unknown to Lowe, a warrant had been issued for his arrest. One year later, Lowe was taken into custody.   

“I pleaded that I was innocent and was basically mocked for that,” Lowe said.  

Lowe remained in jail for 17 days.  

“The jail conditions were horrible. There was a lot of mental health issues. People screaming, fighting, violence, it was filthy, it smelled of urine,” Lowe said. “The facilities were just really, really bad.” 

After 17 days, police realized they had arrested the wrong person and Lowe was released.  

“He got away with committing this crime and I’m the one that paid the price for it,” Lowe said of the true perpetrator. 

Lowe's lawyer, Scott Palmer, says it remains a mystery why American airlines confused the other man with Lowe, who works as a nature guide at the Grand Canyon. 

“Why Michael Lowe was chosen to be the sacrificial lamb, no one knows,” Palmer said. “American Airlines knows. I don’t know how they went through their procedure and decided that he was the one when the actual perpetrator was on that flight as well. It is mind-boggling.”

In court papers, American Airlines has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement, American Airlines said, “As required by law, American cooperates with and responds to court orders for information related to possible criminal activity, and that’s what we did in this instance.”

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