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Jerome woman files lawsuit against American Airlines

The complaint names as defendants American Airlines Group Inc. of Texas and CheapOAir Inc. of New York
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 5:42 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Last year, KMVT reported on a Jerome woman who was forced to crawl to the bathroom while flying from Salt Lake City to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit her sister in Virginia.

KMVT caught up with Tammy Spears and her lawyer Diane Moore, an attorney from the Los Angeles-based firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, about a lawsuit filed against American Airlines and CheapOAir.

Spears, an amputee, tells KMVT it was her first time traveling in 16 years.

“I basically had to go to the bathroom, and they did not have the special wheelchair on the plane." Spears explains. “So I ended up crawling from my seat, all the way to the bathroom on my bottom, and dragging my stump, and it was pretty bad.”

Spears said the experience left her horrified and her husband traumatized.

“Everybody just staring down at me, and just, you know, it was humiliating.” Spears said. “It just unnerved me and, and then after, another thing they did I was the last one off the plane, and there was just people coming up to me, and wanting to hug me and you know, pat my shoulder, telling me you’re going to be OK, it’s good, everything’s good. That was kind of embarrassing also, you know, to be singled out like that.”

Moore and colleague Ronald L. M. Goldman filed the suit in Utah, since Spears flew out of Salt Lake City.

The lawsuit alleges that “American Airlines negligently failed to have an aisle wheelchair on Mrs. Spears' flight and failed to warn her that that there would be no means for her to get to an onboard lavatory during the flight if the need arose,” a press release from the law firm reads. “The lawsuit further alleges that CheapOAir, the company that sold Mrs. Spears' ticket for air travel, negligently failed to inform American Airlines of Mrs. Spears' disability and special needs and failed to give Mrs. Spears any information about how and when to notify the airline to arrange for an on-flight aisle wheelchair.”

The counts for damages against American Airlines and CheapOAir are as follows:

Count I: Negligence – Failure to Have Onboard Aisle Chair (American Airlines)

Count II: Negligence – Failure to Warn or Deny Boarding (American Airlines)

Count III: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (American Airlines)

Count IV: Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (American Airlines)

Count V: Negligence (CheapOAir)

Count VI: Loss of Consortium (Both Defendants)

Moore says they are not only fighting for Spears but countless others.

“Obviously Tammy was truly abused by American Airlines.” Moore says, “And we’re looking not only from the perspective of Tammy’s case, but we have thousands of military members and other citizens who have lost a limb, and who have every right to be able to travel safely without being humiliated.”

They’re seeking at least $75,000 in damages, which is the minimum amount one can sue for in federal court.

“What we ultimately ask for will likely be a combination of not only money to compensate Tammy, her husband who was terrified and had to try and bring her home." Moore explains. "So we’ll be asking for those sorts of damages, some medical bills, but most of all it’s about the emotional distress of a passenger who’s a grown woman who has to essentially be tugged along the aisle with everybody seeing her.”

For Spears, it’s not about the money.

“It’s never been about the amount, a sum or anything like that,” Spears explained. “It’s just I want people to know what they do, how they treat people. Because like I said earlier, I can’t be the only one that this has happened to. And something needs to be done.”

Spears also said it’s left a lasting impression on her.

“I’ll tell you what, I don’t think I’ll get on a plane again,” Spears said. “I don’t think I can, you know, I don’t think I without out getting really worked up, I don’t think I’ll ever get on a plane again.”

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