Law firm partner in alleged drink-fuelled air rage ruck on London-bound flight

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By Jonathan Ames on

A 41-year-old woman corporate immigration expert is suspended after producing a passable impersonation of an Essex lager lout

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Rock ‘n’ rollers, spoilt protein-starved super models and lager louts are expected these days to trigger rucks on aeroplanes — but law firm partners …?

Sarah Buffett (pictured below) — a business immigration specialist at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, which has 15 offices across the US — was reported to have kicked up such a fuss in the first-class cabin on a recent flight to London that the pilot had to make an unscheduled landing to get shot of her.


The fiery Buffett boarded the US Airways flight in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the firm is based. Not long into the journey to Blighty, she kicked right off and the flight had to be diverted to an unscheduled stop in Philadelphia, where tutting police were waiting.

According to a report in the Philly Voice website — which quoted an official criminal complaint filed two days ago — Buffett:

Allegedly became physically aggressive and was damaging her seat … She allegedly tried to smash the aircraft window with an entertainment system remote before getting out of her seat and acting in a menacing manner in front of the cockpit door.

So far so Essex Man en route to Spain’s Costa del Booze. According to the report, beleaguered crew — who generally reckon the first-class cabin is a bit of a doddle — could not restrain the belligerent Buffett and had to call on her fellow well-heeled passengers to assist.

They finally managed to put the 41-year-old Ivy League law school graduate into the plastic restraints airlines are forced to carry these days. But our girl was far from beaten.

The co-author of the definitive essay in the Immigration & Nationality Law Handbook — “H-1B Cap Strategies: What To Do When An H-1B is Harder to Score Than Tickets to the Super Bowl” — managed to extract herself twice.

Finally the crew and passengers subdued Buffett through a combination of plastic restraints and taping together her lower legs.

According to the reports, on the ground in Pennsylvania the lawyer told the rozzers that after take off she had washed down a sleeping table with “at least” three glasses of wine. Buffett then claimed not to remember anything after having politely declined the airline’s haute cuisine in-flight meal.

This probably isn’t the career highlight Buffett envisaged when she graduated in 1999 from Cornell law school, having two years previously done a stint at the Sorbonne in Paris.

And it did not appear to be going down that well with her firm, which is ranked in the US’s top 100. A statement sent to Legal Cheek from HQ in North Carolina was perfunctory:

Nelson Mullins is sympathetic to the inconvenience suffered by the passengers and crew of US Airways Flight 732. While we do not know all the details yet, the firm does have an expectation of personal responsibility on the part of all of our partners.

The statement continued:

Nelson Mullins has and continues to expect the highest standards of professional behavior among all its employees. Sarah Buffett has been suspended pending an investigation.

The firm would not comment on whether Buffett was heading to London Town for work or pleasure.

And Buffett’s glowing online profile was whipped off the firm’s website today. But despite having hordes of IT technicians, corporate law firms never seem to understand the concept of the Google cache. So Legal Cheek can bring you the full Buffett biog.

Read the criminal complaint in full below:

Criminal Complaint U S v Sarah E Buffett