A New York mother, Tehmina Haque, has sued American Airlines for injuries suffered by her son when he came into contact with peanut oil on a flight due to the in-flight peanuts. Even though her son did not go into anaphylactic shock due to his severe allergy, she sued the airline for negligence. While this is not the strongest case due to the lack of a more tangible injury, it is not a frivolous issue. I remain shocked that airlines serve peanuts given the relatively high number of people (including many children) with potentially life-threatening reactions to the product.
Haque claims that she specifically asked at booking and before booking about the risk and was assured that no peanuts would be served on the flight. She says that she was then served peanuts soon after take-off.
A recent lawsuit over the issue against Continental Airlines was dismissed in New Jersey.
Peanut allergy is the most prevalent food allergy in the US with as many as 1.5 million people suffering from the disease, click here. It is also considered the most common food-based cause of death.
Schools have finally responded to this research and taken steps to protect children. Two of my children have had to forego peanut products due to kids in their classes with the disease. We were more than willing to forego peanut sandwiches to help protect the child. (Notably, a few years ago, parents actually refused to comply with such a directive in Virginia — insisting that the child’s health was not their problem).
Given the large number of people affected and the life-threatening risk of contact with even residual peanut oil, I view the decision of some airlines to serve peanuts to be grossly negligent. Moreover, it is astonishing that Congress or the FAA have not banned these products. Obviously, an airline cannot eliminate every possible risk, but peanut allergies are extremely common.
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