Woman Sues Airline Over Flight Turbulence

from the acts-of-god dept

We recently wrote about a woman suing a movie theater and movie producers because she felt the trailer for the film was misleading concerning the content of the actual movie. It seems that bizarre lawsuits aren't that uncommon these days. btr1701 alerts us to a case in which a woman sued Continental Airlines because her flight was too turbulent. No one seems to be showing the actual filing (anyone have it? thanks to everyone who sent this in, it's now embedded below), but it sounds like she's claiming that they were somehow negligent in taking off, given the weather reports, and the resulting extreme turbulence. She's also claiming that the turbulence resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder and that she has missed out on job opportunities because she now refuses to fly. I don't doubt that the flight may have been traumatic, but I do wonder if there's any actual legal issue here. Update: A bunch of you sent in the complaint, and it's a pretty clean, straightfoward negligence claim. Nice, at least, to see them not try to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the complaint. However, I still can't see it sticking. Negligence can be pretty difficult to prove, and a lot of the facts of the situation don't support her claim that this was truly negligent. A poor decision alone isn't negligent.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    xenomancer (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:01am

    A rough time in court

    I hope she can handle the legal turbulence she's about to go through.

     

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      A Dan (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:18am

      Re: A rough time in court

      I've had a bad flight that made me not want to fly, but I wouldn't consider that the fault of the airline. It just means I'm not really cut out for flying. If I'm not able to handle the requirements of a job, that's my own problem.

       

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    Beta (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:46am

    right this way

    This might just be the only good purpose of the no-fly list I've ever heard.

     

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    hmm (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    This case

    Is going to be rough, slightly bouncy and well whats the word...erm......turbulent thats it!

    I hope her lawyer advised her to keep her seatbelt fastened for the journey!

    Hey, I wonder if she can say the legal wranglings were turbulent and she now has post-traumatic stress disorder and can now no longer sue people and therefore sue the US government for not having adequate safeguards against people suing for retarded reasons..........

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:52am

    What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

    Here's your own "About" statement, as you've forgotten again: "uses a proven economic framework to analyze and offer insight into news stories about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues that affect companies ability to innovate and grow."

    And I'm still waiting for how an "economic framework" analyzes anything. -- By the way, Mike, yours above is an example of "bafflegab", just buzzwords strung together to look impressive, while any actual attempt to understand baffles.

     

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      MrWilson, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:57am

      Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

      Can you point out where in the About statement or anywhere else on the blog that Mike promises under pain of meaningless criticism that he will never post something that doesn't fit into your perception of what would be appropriate material or proper phrasing of posts for his website?

      The beauty of the internet is that participation isn't mandatory. You neither have to read nor comment on content that you aren't interested in.

       

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        AJ, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

        "The beauty of the internet is that participation isn't mandatory. You neither have to read nor comment on content that you aren't interested in."

        Such a easy to understand and profound statement that totally eludes your average troll!

        +1 insightful, and 1,000 Internets to you sir.

         

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          Richard (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:56am

          Re: Re: Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

          Ah - but just suppose he is thinking the same way as the woman who complained about the film?

           

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      PaulT (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:02am

      Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

      So, you've finally found an article you can't attack, and you still have to launch a moronic attack against something? Figures.

      "just...words strung together to look impressive, while any actual attempt to understand baffles."

      A good assessment of your own post, well done.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 9:14am

      Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

      "And I'm still waiting for how an "economic framework" analyzes anything"

      It doesn't. You don't expect hammers to suddenly get up and to build houses on their own do you? But you can use hammers to build houses yourself, though. Big difference here.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 10:42am

      Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

      i don't think this blog is the major service they provide.

       

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      JMT (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

      Re: What is this, the legalistic weenies blog?

      "...yours above is an example of "bafflegab", just buzzwords strung together to look impressive, while any actual attempt to understand baffles."

      Did anyone get the license plate of the irony that just ran me over?

       

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    AJ, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:52am

    Well.. After pulling the transcripts of the departure tapes, I think I've found where the confusion started....


    "Roger Murdock: Flight 2-0-9'er, you are cleared for take-off.
    Captain Oveur: Roger!
    Roger Murdock: Huh?
    Tower voice: L.A. departure frequency, 123 point 9'er.
    Captain Oveur: Roger!
    Roger Murdock: Huh?
    Victor Basta: Request vector, over.
    Captain Oveur: What?
    Tower voice: Flight 2-0-9'er cleared for vector 324.
    Roger Murdock: We have clearance, Clarence.
    Captain Oveur: Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
    Tower voice: Tower's radio clearance, over!
    Captain Oveur: That's Clarence Oveur. Over.
    Tower voice: Over.
    Captain Oveur: Roger.
    Roger Murdock: Huh?
    Tower voice: Roger, over!
    Roger Murdock: What?
    Captain Oveur: Huh?
    Victor Basta: Who? "

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 7:53am

    *blink blink blink*
    At first I figured NFW this had any merit.... then I read this.

    "Colleen O'Neal of Lubbock, Texas, was flying from College Station to Houston on Oct. 29, 2009, when the flight hit extreme turbulence just minutes after takeoff, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Harris County district court. Weather reports at the time of departure showed a threat of "tornados, wind shear, and dangerously strong winds with rotating and intense thunderstorms.""

    It seems like the flight should have been grounded with that much unstable air in the area. A 20 min flight turned into over 2 hours with the flight dropping altitude over and over.

    While I think the PTSD and it ruined my entire life seems to be over the top, the fact she waited 2 years to file also raises some serious questions.

    She also names Colgan Air which, IIRC, was the subject of a "Frontline" investigation about how the minicarrier was cutting all sorts of corners and there was much pressure to move the planes at all costs. While the plane has Continental on the side, in past problems Continental has always said that Colgan was ultimately responsible in crash investigations etc etc.

    Something bad happened, but the "cha-ching" sue for everything including the kitchen sink type of case is not helping.

     

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      MrWilson, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      The other significant question to ask is: why didn't she check the weather report and make the decision not to get on the flight if she felt it shouldn't have flown that day?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re:

        Because then she wouldn't have been reimbursed for the cost of the tickets, whereas if the airline grounded the flight they'd have to give the passengers replacement tickets for another flight.

         

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        That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:22am

        Re: Re:

        Because she assumed that there actually is a working system that says when the conditions are this bad we can not allow flights to take off.

        We have seen tons of crashes caused by windsheer and microbursts etc etc... a 20 min flight becoming a 2 hour nightmare isn't supposed to happen.

        While she might have some sort of case, I think its over the top.

         

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      The eejit (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:08am

      Re:

      You think that's bad, you should try Mongol turbulence. It attacks you with mountains and everything!

       

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      AJ, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:27am

      Re:

      Agreed. She may have an issue to take up with the airline, but enough to file a lawsuit? Hell I would have paid extra for that ride! You know it had to be crazy for the entire flight, crew and all, to take an "I survived" photo" afterwards!

      On the funny side....
      I'm getting a mental picture of some young couple in the John trying to join the mile high club when all hell breaks loose.... moments later they emerge beat all to hell, and as blue as a smurf.......

       

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      Dementia (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 2:09pm

      Re:

      Here's the part I like: She is District Coordinator of the Texas Department of Emergency Management with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Yet somehow she couldn't take a look at the weather and think maybe today isn't such a good day to fly?

       

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      Pedro, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 9:21am

      Re: That Anonymous Coward

      That Anonymous Coward, yours is the only comment I've read across may sites that says, "Hey, she might be right." I think they should not have flown.

       

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    The Incoherent One (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Well

    I wouldn't hire her. I hate people who whine.

    As a side note the fact that I now know that she is happy to obtain counsel for what was a rough/bad flight which she was fortunate enough to walk away from only gives me additional cause as to why I would want her working for me.

     

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    Butcherer79 (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    The fact that she's alive would suggest that the flight made it, does it not lead on, that the decision to fly was the correct one?

     

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      Slicerwizard, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 6:32pm

      Re:

      "The fact that she's alive would suggest that the flight made it, does it not lead on, that the decision to fly was the correct one?"

      So because my idiot friend once managed to run across a busy 12 lane highway without becoming a hood ornament, it follows that his decision to play in 120 kph traffic was the correct one? Right...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:11am

    In other news, a Florida woman is suing Tampa Bay Sports And Entertainment LLC, owners and operators of St. Pete Times Forum, due to the arena being too cold at a recent Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. She states in the filing that she contracted hypothermia and was forced to cover her skimpy bikini with a sweater and pants. She is seeking damages related to post traumatic stress disorder, claiming that she is now barred from future job opportunities as a result of being afraid of Canada.

     

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    Jeon, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:15am

    The real question is, "Who takes a 20 minute flight?"(that can't afford a car and driver.)

     

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      Any Mouse (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 11:33am

      Re:

      Yeah... I don't drive at all, but I could fork over gas money for a friend to take me or, hey! $69 to take a frickin' Greyhound! 20 minute 'commuter' flights are an expensive convenience.

       

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      Dementia (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      I've driven that stretch of Texas highway more than I care to remember. After all her trouble it took her about the same amount of time to reach Houston as it takes to drive.

       

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      JBDragon, Oct 18th, 2011 @ 8:32am

      Re:

      A 20 min flight can be a 8-10 hour drive by car!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    How many other passengers were on this supposedly turbulent flight?
    And how many of them will the airline's lawyers parade before the court, to say that the flight wasn't that bad, nobody else had these problems she supposedly has, and she was acting just fine at the time.

     

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      Gracey (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

      Re:

      As I was reading the comments I was sort of thinking the same thing. I was beginning to wonder if she'd been on the flight alone.

      If this actually goes anywhere, there might be others come out of the woodwork, but...if she has historical medical data that supports her case and no one else does, there may be no other cases come forward.

       

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    rstr5105 (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Link To Court Documents....THUS FAR

    Well,
    It took some finangling. Mike, Please Post this in the original post please? PRETTY PLEASE?

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vRRe0cRk-9K5vT0_zJLvWQE7yiBF74AGQsKidJGcD4s/edit?hl=e n_US

    Once more just for good measure.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 9:17am

      Re: Link To Court Documents....THUS FAR

      "She is District Coordinator of the Texas Division of Emergency Management with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Prior to the flight that is the subject of Plaintiffs claim she intended to become employed by FEMA that would require air travel."

      She intended...
      I intent to win the lotto and be as rich as Warren Buffet, do I get to sue?

      I withdraw my earlier support that she might have had any case. This is over the top at its finest the only thing more ironic is that she is in charge of managing emergencies, but finding herself in one damaged her for life.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Good find: "she intended...".
    I intended to be the smartest man in the world, but the stupidity of this lawsuit lowered my IQ by at least 10 points.
    Can I now sue her?

     

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    Thomas, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 11:47am

    This doesn't surprise me. A few years ago a lady called 911 because she didn't get her cheeseburger made to her liking at a fast food drive through. Pretty unbelievable but true stories, youth group activities

     

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      Gracey (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 1:04pm

      Re:

      I don't see any "unbelievable but true stories" at the youth group link.

      Where's the beef? (in other words...where's the story?)

       

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      Gwiz (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      This doesn't surprise me. A few years ago a lady called 911 because she didn't get her cheeseburger made to her liking at a fast food drive through.

      Heh. There was a news article last week of a family calling 911 after getting lost in a corn maze. (and all this time I thought that was the POINT of a corn maze, go figure)

      http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/10/familys-corn-maze-fun-ends-in-911-rescue/

       

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        Rekrul, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 9:37pm

        Re: Re:

        Heh. There was a news article last week of a family calling 911 after getting lost in a corn maze.

        First, I've never seen a cornfield so dense that you couldn't just push through the stalks. Second, they forgot the universal maze solution of putting one hand on the "wall" and then just keep following it, even through dead ends. It might take a while, but unless you've managed to get into an area that goes in a loop and you pick the inside wall to follow (which should be fairly obvious), you'll eventually come to either the entrance or exit.

        Of course the article says that the maze has maps and signs, so I don't know how they managed to get lost in the first place.

         

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    CJ (profile), Oct 17th, 2011 @ 3:55pm

    I believe the courts should start going after these attorneys that file lawsuits such as this frivolous one. I also hope this woman has to pay all fees on both sides when this is over.

     

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    Rekrul, Oct 17th, 2011 @ 9:38pm

    The other day I bought a carton of eggs that turned out to be rotten. Maybe I should sue the store for ruining my appetite and making me afraid of eggs.

     

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    Albuquerque Lawyers, Oct 24th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Albuquerque Lawyers

    If you are afraid of flying donít fly, but donít get on a plane and then sue the company for a rough flight. I canít believe it that means you can get on a bus and sue the company because the road was bumpy and you got sick, itís the same thing.

     

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    whatever, Oct 25th, 2011 @ 3:32pm

    unbelievable

    jesus christ.
    fucking americans.
    never cease to amaze.

     

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    Shine (profile), Nov 14th, 2011 @ 11:56pm

    traumatized

    She must have been traumatized by the flying experience. But suing the airline for that? Let's see what happens.

     

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    Nicole, Dec 19th, 2011 @ 10:53pm

    update?

    Any update on this news? Did she win the case?

     

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    Katherine, Jan 4th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    She's got a lawyer to represent her - meaning it is probable that she can win.

     

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    Marissa, May 13th, 2012 @ 2:09am

    She should just be thankful the airplane was okay and nobody got hurt. I don't think the airline likes what happened either.

     

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