National

The plane was burning, people couldn’t breathe and there was no one to help, suit says

In this photo provided by passenger Jose Castillo, fellow passengers walk away from a burning American Airlines jet that aborted takeoff and caught fire on the runway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Friday. Pilots on Flight 383 bound for Miami reported an engine-related mechanical issue, according to an airline spokeswoman.
In this photo provided by passenger Jose Castillo, fellow passengers walk away from a burning American Airlines jet that aborted takeoff and caught fire on the runway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Friday. Pilots on Flight 383 bound for Miami reported an engine-related mechanical issue, according to an airline spokeswoman. AP

Late last month, passengers on a Chicago to Miami flight were sent hurtling down evacuation slides from an American Airlines Boeing 767 after the plane’s engine caught fire, engulfing the runway in billowing black smoke.

Now, 18 passengers — including three from South Florida — are suing the airline, Boeing and GE, the engine’s manufacturer, for the injuries caused by the allegedly “defective and unreasonably dangerous” aircraft, the suit says. The lawsuit was filed in Illinois circuit court, where the incident took place.

On the afternoon of Oct. 28, 170 crew and passengers on Flight 383 from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Miami International Airport were forced to evacuate when the engine on the right side of the plane burst into flames on the tarmac. Footage from the scene shows passengers quickly evacuating on slides on the front and rear left side of the plane and running into a grassy area while smoke and fire rise in the background. The plane’s right wing can be seen melting and drooping.

About 20 people suffered minor injuries, officials said.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs suffered “personal and bodily injuries, both physical and psychological in nature” and either have or will sustain “future medical bills, lost earnings, disability, disfigurement, and pain and suffering and emotional distress,” as a result of the accident.

GE and Boeing and American, as well, need to take a harder look at this problem because I’m concerned it’s a recurring problem.

Floyd Wisner, principal at Wisner Law Firm

The suit claims GE sold the defective engine to Boeing, which was negligent in “designing, manufacturing, assembling, and selling the accident aircraft as as not to cause injury to plaintiffs.” It also alleges that American Airlines failed to maintain, service, inspect and repair the aircraft appropriately enough to avoid the accident.

American Airlines declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

The plaintiffs are represented by Chicago-based Wisner Law Firm, which focuses solely on representing people injured or killed in aviation accidents. The firm recently resolved a similar case for an undisclosed amount involving more than 100 passengers and crew on a September 2015 British Airways. Like the Chicago to Miami flight, the British Airways flight involved a faulty GE engine on a Boeing plane that failed and caught fire at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport.

“GE and Boeing and American, as well, need to take a harder look at this problem because I’m concerned it’s a recurring problem,” said Floyd Wisner, principal at the law firm. “It’s not just a rare occurrence.”

The law firm expects to add other passengers as plaintiffs, as well as other parties, such as material suppliers or component manufactures, as defendants if certain parts of the engine are found as contributing to the fire.

  Comments