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Flight Attendants Mistake Dying Man For Unruly Passenger


Southwest Airlines were sued after their flight attendants mistook a dying man for an unruly passenger. His family claimed that they could have rendered assistance and saved the man’s life, but instead treated him like a criminal. Southwest was able to defeat the claim

According to the lawsuit, the man suffered medical distress and locked himself in the bathroom. The flight attendants could hear grunting, crying, and yelling from outside the door. Instead of assuming the man was in need of a doctor, they assumed he was just some jerk. The flight attendants faulted him for failing to comply with numerous requests to open the door. They also stated that when they tried to push in the door, the passenger’s foot prevented them from doing so.

Meanwhile, the passenger was suffering from a pulmonary embolism and died. The flight attendants called security and asked them to meet them on the plane upon landing. Security was able to access the bathroom, but instead of finding an unruly passenger, they found a man who was not breathing and did not have a pulse. He was rushed to the hospital where he died the following day.

What happened to his case? 

The plaintiff must prove that had the flight attendants acted quicker, the man’s life would have been saved. Let’s table that for a second because the second element of Southwest’s defense is going to really make you mad.

Airlines have immunity under federal law when responding to a possible security threat. That means that if you’re injured and the flight attendants feel threatened, you have no recourse to file a lawsuit. Nonetheless, the lawsuit was allowed to move forward. The jury returned a verdict that the airline was negligent in this case, but that the negligence was not a substantial factor in the man’s death. That brings us back to the first point.

To prove wrongful death, you must prove more than just that negligence occurred. You must prove that by acting in accord with an ordinary standard of care, the man’s prognosis would have been better than death. In this case, the plaintiffs failed to convince a jury that the man could have been saved if the flight attendants recognized a medical emergency. Luckily, we do not live in a country where private citizens can claim they feel threatened and cause other people to die without any consequence. Not yet, at least. The defendants tried this argument and failed.

An appeal was filed in this case, but the appellate court again returned a verdict in favor of the defendants. Nonetheless, flight attendants are not medical professionals and should not be making calls about security, especially when someone is screaming in pain from the bathroom.

Talk to a Miami Wrongful Death Attorney Today

 Payer Law files lawsuits against those who have wrongfully caused the death of another individual. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your options immediately.


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