A passenger who says she’s been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight is suing the airline.
The lawsuit by Lilia Chavez was filed Thursday in federal court in Philadelphia alleging negligence by Dallas-based Southwest.
Lilia says she was sitting three seats behind a window that shattered after the engine exploded on Flight 1380 on April 17.
This was the Row 14 seat which Riordan was sitting in when she was sucked towards the window at 32,000ft. Now a passenger sitting three rows behind is suing Southwest Airlines
This harrowing image taken before the plane made its emergency landing shows the state of the exploded engine
Jennifer Riordan’s upper body was sucked out of the Southwest plane earlier this month
She says she witnessed ‘the horror’ as the force of depressurization pulled fellow passenger Jennifer Riordan partially through the shattered window. Riordan later died.
‘Ms. Chavez witnessed the horror as the force of the depressurization pulled an innocent passenger partially through the shattered window and she watched as passengers risked their lives to pull the passenger back into the aircraft and save her life,’ says the document.
It describes how Chavez ‘prayed and feared for her life’ and heard other passengers calling their loved ones to say their final goodbyes. Chavez also ‘contacted her children to tell them that she loved them and that she was preparing to die aboard the crippled aircraft,’ says the lawsuit.
Chavez says she was struck by airborne debris and battled through obstructed breathing during the entire ordeal.
Chavez is now suing the airline for negligence and ‘willful, wanton, and outrageous misconduct,’ because a similar engine failure occurred on a Southwest flight last August.
She says the company acted ‘with malice, recklessness, and with disregard for the rights of others’ by putting profits ahead of passengers’ safety.
‘Despite knowing of the dangerous condition of the subject aircraft’s engine, the defendants risked the lives of more than a hundred innocent passengers, including the Plaintiff, by electing not to discontinue service with the use of aircraft equipped with these engines or otherwise electing not to inform passengers of the nature of the existing dangerous condition,’ the suit states.
Riordan’s window was smashed by shrapnel from the exploding engine which was several rows in front Chavez who was sitting three rows behind
After the plane made its rocky emergency landing at PHL, passengers were immediately met by Southwest representatives that Chavez claims were of little help and showed no concern for getting her the appropriate care. As a result, Chavez says she continues to suffer ‘severe personal injuries’ including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and related mental trauma.
Her lawyer, Bradley J. Stoll, told NPR that Chavez is ‘a very brilliant, successful woman who in her life has overcome very significant obstacles and is the matriarch of her immediate and extended family. This accident has crippled her will and she is in shock over this horrible, near-death experience.’
The plane traveling from New York to Dallas made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.
Southwest said it could not comment on pending litigation.
All passengers on the flight each received a $5,000 check from Southwest Airlines and a $1,000 gift voucher.
The airline’s CEO Gary Kelly sent a letter to the 142 passengers who survived, apologizing for the ‘circumstances’ which surrounded the flight.
No blame has been assigned to the airline for the engine explosion which sent a piece of shrapnel flying through the window next to Riordan.