Alaska News

Alaska Airlines passengers sue Boeing after 737 MAX 9 blowout

SEATTLE — Six Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 passengers have sued Boeing after a large panel blew off the aircraft Friday over Portland, Ore., causing the cabin to depressurize.

The six passengers and a family member of one of those passengers filed a proposed class-action lawsuit Thursday in King County Superior Court in Seattle, claiming Boeing owes them and the other 165 passengers aboard Flight 1282 compensation for injuries sustained during the incident.

Alaska Airlines is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

One passenger named in the lawsuit said her head jolted back and forth during the incident, resulting in a concussion, soft tissue injuries to her neck and back and bleeding in one ear. She also alleged her oxygen mask did not seem to be working.

Two passengers named in the lawsuit said they had difficulty breathing. One said they began to pass out.

Another passenger said that because he suffers from a seizure disorder triggered by stressful situations, he experienced a seizure after he disembarked.

“Although everyone is glad that the blowout occurred while the crew could still manage to land the aircraft safely, this nightmare experience has caused economic, physical and ongoing emotional consequences that have understandably deeply affected our clients, and is one more disturbing mark on the troubled 737-MAX series aircraft,” attorney Daniel Laurence from Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore law firm, which is representing the passengers, wrote in a statement Thursday.


[FAA to audit Boeing production line after Alaska Airlines blowout]

The Alaska Airlines flight was operating a Boeing 737 MAX 9, the less popular of two MAX models currently carrying passengers, when a door plug meant to cover a hole where an emergency exit could be installed broke loose. The plane returned safely to Portland International Airport, where some passengers were treated for nonlife-threatening injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded that model of the MAX on Saturday. The planes will remain grounded until they are inspected, following a set of instructions from Boeing that must be approved by the FAA.

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

The company has said in statements earlier this week that it supports the FAA’s decision to ground the 737 MAX 9, and it is “committed to ensuring every Boeing airplane meets design specifications and the highest safety and quality standards.”

“We regret the impact this has had on our customers and their passengers,” Boeing said Monday.

[When Alaska Flight 1282 blew open, a mom went into ‘go mode’ to protect her son]

The lawsuit filed Thursday pins the blame on Boeing because, it alleges, CEO Dave Calhoun admitted the blowout was a result of Boeing’s “mistake.”

Attorneys representing the passengers pointed to an all-employee meeting Boeing held Tuesday during which Calhoun told workers, “We’re going to approach this No. 1 acknowledging our mistake.”

“We are going to approach it with 100% in complete transparency every step of the way,” he continued

“Moments like this shake [customers] to the bone, just like it shook me to the bone,” Calhoun said.

The proposed class for the lawsuit includes the 171 passengers on board Flight 1282 as well as their spouses and registered domestic partners. Some reside in Washington.

The plaintiffs are asking for compensation related to treatment for health conditions and psychological injuries, as well as costs from the cancellation of travel plans, missed work and the value of lost personal items.

The lawsuit comes the same day the FAA announced it had opened an investigation into Boeing’s role in the Friday blowout.

After the plane landed in Portland on Friday, some passengers were rebooked on a new flight to continue the journey to Ontario, Calif., the original destination of Flight 1282. Other passengers “had no interest in reboarding,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, those who continued to California that night boarded another Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9.