American Airlines is looking as a likely lawsuit after a series of mishaps and mistakes on a flight from Haiti to New York. After refusing repeated requests for oxygen from a sick woman, Carine Desir, the airline crew then used faulty equipment and empty oxygen tanks to treat her. She died on the flight.
Desir had started complaining of not feeling well after dinner was served and said that she could not breathe. She repeatedly asked for oxygen, but the flight attendant apparently viewed this as akin to asking for extra peanuts or using the first-class bathroom. The refusals led Desir to beg the flight crew not to let her die.
Passengers reportedly rose up in anger at the crew, which eventually spoke to the pilots and brought out the tank. It turned out empty. Two doctors and a nurse were trying to help, but when a second tank was produced — it was also reportedly empty. When the nurse tried to do CPR with a defibrillator, it was also allegedly malfunctioning. Desir died.
Such a case is particularly strong for a tort action for various reasons. First, as a common carrier, American Airlines is subject to a high standard of care (put another way, they are liable for even slight negligence). Second, even though there could have been a factual causation question on the lack of oxygen as the cause for the death (Desir reportedly had a preexisting heart condition), the reported behavior of the crew and the failure of equipment could easily have contributed to such a death. Third, failure to have working tanks and defibrillators could be negligence per se — a violation of statutory and regulatory standards of care. According to these witnesses, the tanks and CPR boxes are purely decorative items.
American Airlines denies the report, here.
Even if half of these reports proves true, American is in a very poor position legally.
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