The lawsuit recounts the fear that many passengers felt after a door plug failure caused an Alaska Airlines flight to depressurize at altitude, leading many to believe they were likely going to die.
Four Alaska Airlines passengers aboard a Boeing 737 MAX 9 that suffered a near-catastrophic failure after losing a piece of fuselage have filed a lawsuit against both the air carrier and manufacturer.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, California-bound Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had just departed Portland International Airport on January 5th when its door plug came loose, tearing apart sections of the fuselage and depressurizing the cabins. Nobody aboard the flight was seriously injured, with its pilots navigating back to Portland for an emergency landing.
But many passengers feared, at the time, they were facing impending death.
In their complaint, the four plaintiffs—two from California, and two from Washington state—allege that both Boeing an Alaska Airlines are liable for injuries including “intense fear, distress, anxiety, trauma [and] physical pain.”
“Plaintiffs feared the gaping hole in the fuselage, rapid depressurization, and general havoc was a prelude to the plane’s destruction and their own likely death,” the lawsuit alleges.
“This is the end,” one passenger purportedly thought.
Others, said Seattle-based attorney Mark Lindquist, raced to send “what they thought would be their final text messages in this world.”
“Mom,” one of the plaintiffs texted, “our plane depressed. We’re in masks. I love you.”
The lawsuit alleges that Boeing delivered the 737 MAX 9 aircraft with a faulty door plug—and that Alaska Airlines, having already deemed the plane unfit for travel over the ocean, continued to fly it over land.
“Though it’s too soon to know for sure what exactly went wrong,” Lindquist said in a statement, “we know that Boeing is ultimately responsible for the safety of their planes and Alaska Airlines is ultimately responsible for the safety of their passengers.”
The Anchorage Daily News notes that, in the immediate aftermath of the flight, Alaska Airlines refunded passengers’ tickets and provided cash payments of $1,500 as “an immediate gesture of care.”
The payments, Alaska Airlines said, were intended to “cover any incidental expenses [and] to ensure their immediate needs were taken care of.”
However, the company’s preliminary offer of compensation has already been criticized as inadequate. Lindquist, for his part, says that he expects the number of lawsuits related to the incident—and the number of passengers named in this most recent complaint—to grow.
“Every passenger on that plane is affected differently,” Lindquist said, adding that individual passengers’ damages could be dependent on where they were seated in the plane as well as their “personal make up.”
“The evidence is going to be different for each person,” he said. “Some people are still processing how they feel.”