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Wed, Apr 29, 2009

Just What We Needed: New Reasons To Sue Airlines -- Bad Air?

SWA 1705 Passengers File Petition To Preserve Evidence Of 'Contaminated Air'

Just when you thought the legal system couldn't possibly get more convoluted, comes the latest twist. Twin sisters are suing Southwest Airlines... for bad air. 

According to the obligatory press release issued by their lawyers, Victoria Vaughn Holsted and Valerie Vaughn have filed a Petition for Preservation of Evidence in Los Angeles Superior Court against Southwest Airlines. They (or their lawyers) claim that exposure to contaminated air while passengers onboard Southwest Airlines Flight 1705 from Los Angeles, CA to Nashville, TN on January 27, 2009 has caused them to suffer serious and debilitating health problems, among them motor skill deficiencies, loss of balance, vision impairment and uncontrollable tremors.

The plane in question was a Boeing 737-300 jet aircraft and the itinerary for Flight 1705 also included stops in Birmingham, AL and Baltimore, MD. According to attorneys Christine D. Spagnoli and Robert D. Jarchi, "despite repeated requests, Southwest Airlines gave Victoria and Valerie the runaround when they called the airline with questions as to what they were exposed to on Flight 1705 so that their doctors would know how to best treat them, and calls to the Federal Aviation Administration offered no pertinent information, compelling them to file this Petition."

The source of the bad air has not been disclosed, nor has any evidence that is linked to the airline been made public. The law firm representing these two is putting on the full court press... a telephone press conference, media outreach, press releases, the works.

The basic claim states that, "On January 27, 2009, Victoria and Valerie boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 1705, which departed at approximately 10:00 AM from Los Angeles International Airport with stops scheduled for Nashville International Airport in Nashville, TN, then Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, AL and finally Baltimore/Washington International Airport in Baltimore, MD. About one-hour into the flight they, along with the other passengers, began to experience hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), among other problems. Once alerted to the air quality problem in the cabin, the pilot then engaged the engines at full thrust and entered a steep ascent. As this occurred, super heated air began to surge out of the ventilation system and onto the passengers. Also present was the appearance of a mist.

The pilot announced to the passengers that there had been a malfunction, and Flight 1705 made an emergency landing in Albuquerque, NM. A Fire Marshall boarded the plane and advised the passengers to exit the aircraft. The sisters and other passengers then took another flight that went on to Nashville, TN and then to Birmingham, AL.

During and after Southwest Airlines Flight 1705, both Victoria and Valerie experienced such symptoms as extreme pressure in their heads, nasal passages and ears, which did not go away. These symptoms were followed by other serious physical and mental ailments, including tremors, memory loss, motor skill deficiencies, blurred vision, numbness and tingling in their extremities, among others.

Since Southwest Airlines Flight 1705, twin sisters Victoria or Valerie, age 45, have been forced to take extended leave from work due to their various symptoms. Victoria Vaughn Holsted, a resident of Franklin, TN, is a real estate executive with MedManagement, Inc. She is also a widow and, since Flight 1705, her work on a project with other young widows to publish a book on coping with the death of a spouse has been stalled. Her sister, Valerie Vaughn, a resident of Birmingham, AL, is a PGA Professional and is the Director of Golf at the Eagle Point Golf Club in that city." 

"Through their petition, Victoria and Valerie seek to preserve and obtain information that is vital to their medical treatment," stated Christine D. Spagnoli. "At the present time, they are in the dark as to the nature of the substances which contaminated the air in the passenger cabin of Flight 1705, the nature and duration of their exposure, or the cause of such exposure or release of contaminated air. It is unconscionable that Southwest Airlines tried to sidestep its responsibility to its customers, and we will stand behind our clients to see that justice is served."

ANN has asked for comments from SWA, but we have yet to hear anything in response. ANN has also failed to turn up any other suits, so far, from other passengers onboard that flight. Of course, we'll keep you updated...

FMI: www.greene-broillet.com, www.southwest.com

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