American Airlines Plane

Another Airline Feeds into the Narrative: Airlines Don’t Care About Their Passengers

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

American Airlines is the latest airline to come under fire for passenger misconduct. The latest incident being reported took place over two years ago, but a lawsuit has only recently come to fruition. According to NBC-DFW, the family of Brittany Oswell, is suing American Airlines for wrongful death. They are claiming that the airline refused to make the emergency landing that was necessary to save Brittany’s life; even after it was requested by a doctor who was onboard the flight.

What Happened on the American Airlines Flight?

In April 2016, a passenger, Brittany Oswell, on an American Airline flight was not feeling well. The lawsuit states that the passenger began to feel dizzy and fainted a few hours into the flight. When the passenger regained consciousness, she became very, very ill.

A doctor was onboard the same flight as Brittany heard that a passenger was not feeling well and had fainted. While the doctor was unable to diagnose the problem, the doctor knew Brittany was in poor condition and the needed emergency medical attention. The doctor requested that the plane lands as soon as possible, but his request was ignored.

Brittany stopped breathing about an hour before the flight reached its destination. Oswell was never resuscitated. The suit claims that the defibrillator on the plane was not functioning properly. Brittany ended up passing away three days later. The cause of death was a blood clot in her lung.  

American Airlines released the following statement in regards to the death: “We were deeply saddened by this event and our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Mrs. Oswell’s loved ones. We take the safety of our passengers very seriously and we are looking into the details of the complaint”

What’s Yosi’s Take?

The victim’s family have an extremely strong case against the airline. The strongest point going against the airline is that a presumably trained and skilled physician on three different occasions advised the pilots to land at the nearest airport, but the plane continued on to Dallas. It would be one thing if it was a lay person that was advising the pilots to land. But when a physician is the one advising the flight personnel to land immediately because a passenger is in dire health, it bodes very poorly for the airline. As a common carrier, the airline owes an even higher duty of care to its passengers. That duty was breached when the airline repeatedly ignored the doctor’s advice to land immediately.

This, in my opinion, amounts to gross negligence. It would be a big mistake for the airline to allow this case to go to trial. It should absolutely settle out of court with the victim’s family. What makes the case even worse for the airline is that in addition to ignoring the doctor’s advice, it also had a faulty defibrillator on the flight. If the defibrillator was in proper working condition, it’s very likely that this could have saved the victim’s life. Bottom line, the pilots should have heeded the doctor’s instructions to land immediately. Additionally, the airline should have made sure prior to the flight that they had a working defibrillator onboard the plane.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.