Passengers onboard Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 have filed a lawsuit against Boeing. This follows the harrowing incident involving the Boeing 737 MAX 9 operating the flight. This lawsuit comes despite Alaska Airlines having offered monetary compensation to passengers.
On January 5, 2024, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon for a regularly scheduled flight to Ontario, California (ONT). The flight was operated by a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 9 registered N704AL.
The 737 MAX has faced no shortage of controversy in the past years. However, it should be noted that this was the first major incident involving one of the MAX 9 variants.
As the aircraft climbed through 16,000ft, the door plug installed in place of the optional L4 emergency exit door blew off, causing an uncontrolled plane decompression.
Passengers onboard the flight described the harrowing experience with some suffering bleeding, bruising, faulty oxygen masks, and even losing belongings like shoes, shirts, and cell phones. The aircraft landed safely back in Portland, with everyone onboard surviving.
Following the incident, Alaska Airlines offered each passenger onboard the flight $1,500 as "an immediate gesture of care." According to the airline, this payment was intended to cover "any incidental expenses to ensure that immediate needs were taken care of."
Alaska has reportedly been offering passengers 24/7 access to mental health resources and counseling sessions from behavioral health company Empathia.
"It's Not Enough"
Passengers onboard Flight 1282 have been quick to counter Alaska's monetary offer. Robert Hedrick, an attorney with the Aviation Law Group in Seattle, was not onboard the flight but has some insight about the monetary compensations airlines offer.
When speaking to The Seattle Times, Hedrick said such compensations are common in these incidents, particularly those where no life was lost. However, Hedrick was quick to note that he did not believe the $1,500 compensation was enough, saying that considering what the passengers onboard Flight 1282 endured, such low compensation was "insulting."
Alaska Airlines says the compensation amount was transferred to each passenger's account without prior stipulations or agreements.
Lawsuit Against Boeing
A lawsuit was filed on January 11 by attorneys David Laurence and Furhad Sultani, representing the Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore law firm.
In the suit, six passengers on Flight 1282 and one family member of a passenger describe various injuries, both physical and emotional. One passenger notes that he experienced a seizure following the disembarkation.
The plaintiffs in the case are asking for compensation for treatment for health conditions and psychological injuries, along with the costs from the cancellation of travel plans and missed work, in addition to the value of lost personal items. These are monetary amounts that $1,500 cannot reimburse.
The complaint by the passengers also alleges that many of the emergency oxygen masks that dropped down following the cabin depressurization did not work.
The lawsuit argues that Boeing was negligent in its aircraft manufacturing process, stating, "Boeing is responsible for the safety of design and maintenance instructions as well as continuing airworthiness of the aircraft."
Despite the MAX 9's door plug being assembled by company Spirit AeroSystems, the plane's final assembly took place at Boeing's Renton, Washington facility specializing in 737 production.
With this in mind, Boeing was responsible for ensuring that a thorough final inspection of the aircraft was conducted and that the plane was in fit shape. Boeing's CEO, Dave Calhoun, admitted the company's responsibility and said that it would work with full transparency in the coming investigation.
As a precaution, over 170 MAX 9 aircraft have been temporarily grounded, including those from airlines like United. This has led to a swath of cancellations, further adding to the many weather-related cancellations that have swept across the country in the past few days.
The current lawsuit is ongoing. However, more similar suits against Boeing are expected to emerge.
China Eastern Airlines Sees Record Passenger Traffic After Introducing New Routes for Lunar New Year » Royal Brunei Airlines Orders Four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners at Singapore Airshow » Rwanda Accused of Deadly Drone Attack on Airport in Eastern DR Congo »