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What happens when a plane overshoots a runway, causing a passenger on board severe mental and emotions problems? According to Jewel Thomas, you should get compensation.
Thomas is suing American Airlines over an incident in Chicago where an American Airlines plane ran off the runway at O'Hare International Airport. The Boeing 757 was flying cross-country from Seattle to New York and made an emergency landing at O'Hare. She says that she is so traumatized that, despite previously being a frequently flier, she is now afraid to travel by airplane. Thomas argues that American Airlines was negligent in the incident. According to Thomas, the plane had electrical problems and was on a backup battery. Therefore, she alleges that the crew was negligent not to divert the flight sooner before the battery ran out. It does not seem that American Airlines completely disagrees with Thomas.
Vickie Norton, a captain with United Airlines, said that the American Airlines pilot's decision to continue the flight was incorrect. "There was a primary lack of systems knowledge," she said and added that the pilot should have made the emergency landing sooner, The Seattle Times reports.
Negligence requires a duty, a breach of the duty, causation (factual and proximate) and damages. In this case, the duty of the airlines to protect the safety is not in dispute, but American Airlines is certain to challenge the negligence allegation based on the breach and causation. Depending upon Jewel Thomas' medical records, they could conceivably challenge her damages as well.
In the end, while many say that Thomas should simply be thankful that she is alive, she is entitled to her day in court. Despite the frequent chatter about "frivolous lawsuits," the United States is fortunate to have a system that lets a person who has gone through a troubling ordeal have their day in court.
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