American Airlines passenger says runaway drinks cart gave him brain injury, is suing for millions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 8:45am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 10:02pm

An American Airlines plane flew to its destination rather than make an emergency landing after a runaway beverage cart struck a passenger’s head during take-off, leaving him with a severe brain injury, according to a negligence lawsuit on Thursday.

Charles and Helga Johnson from Stanfordville, New York, are seeking at least US$10 million in damages from American Airlines in a complaint filed in the federal court in White Plains, New York.

Matt Miller, a spokesman for American, said the largest US carrier is reviewing the complaint.

The lawsuit comes at a time of increased focus on how airlines treat passengers after an April video went viral of United Airlines passenger David Dao being dragged from his seat to make way for a crew member.

According to Thursday’s complaint, an unmoored, fully stocked, 135kg drinks cart struck Charles Johnson in the head after it flew down the aisle on Flight 1941 to Charlotte, North Carolina from Hartford, Connecticut on April 28, 2016.

Johnson said the impact caused his hat to be ripped off his head and resulted in a large forehead gash, severe bleeding and a loss of consciousness.

But rather than land, the pilot flew on more than two hours to Charlotte, as a nurse and other passengers cared for Johnson because the cabin crew did not know how, the complaint said.

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Johnson said he now suffers from “chronic traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome,” headaches, mood swings and anxiety.

He has also been unable to work or bend down, and has seen his marriage become “strained” because of his injuries, the complaint said.

The Johnsons are also seeking punitive damages, reflecting what they called Fort Worth, Texas-based American’s “gross negligence” and “reckless disregard” for their well-being.

A lawyer for the Johnsons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.