Family sues Airport when stowaway falls from plane

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GloriaInTX's picture
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Family sues Airport when stowaway falls from plane

Is the city, airport or airline at fault for this boy sneaking into the wheel well of a plane and then falling off?

The family of a teen who fell from the wheel well of a jet in a Boston suburb two years ago is suing Charlotte, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and US Airways.

The family of 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale says negligence by the city, the airport and the airline caused the teen to fall from a Boeing 737 to his death.

The lawsuit filed in Charlotte says the city, the airport and the airline should have done more to prevent Tisdale from getting onto the tarmac and into the wheel well of the plane. It seeks damages in excess of $10,000.

"The city remains saddened by the death of Delvonte Tisdale and wishes to express sympathy for his family. However, I don?t see how the city or the airport could or should be held legally liable for Mr. Tisdale's decisions and actions," city attorney Bob Hagemann said in a statement in response to the lawsuit.

The teen ran away from home on Nov. 14, 2010, authorities said. His body was found in a Boston suburb a day later so badly damaged that an autopsy could not determine the cause of death.

Authorities said Tisdale apparently made it onto the airport tarmac and climbed into the wheel well of a Boston-bound jet.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police conducted a security review, and in April released a report saying the airport police force was inadequate to properly monitor the airport.

The airport says it already has implemented some of the security recommendations.

Earlier this month, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police announced that airport police would be merged into the larger agency and the department would probably add more officers to beef up airport security.

"There was no way to deny that that incident was a catalyst for a lot of discussions and concerns," said Kerr Putney, deputy Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief.

Read more: Family of teen who fell from wheel well of jet sues US Airways, others | Fox News

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
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America....the place where your stupidity is someone else's fault, and worth millions...

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3311

I really do wish people could accept that some things are just tragic accidents, or simply the responsibility of the victim and no one else, at least not to the extent that they should be sued.

When someone does something that ultimately leads to their death, there are many people along the way that could say "had i done this differently, he/she might not have died" While that may be true...i just think liability is getting out of control.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"KimPossible" wrote:

I really do wish people could accept that some things are just tragic accidents, or simply the responsibility of the victim and no one else, at least not to the extent that they should be sued.

When someone does something that ultimately leads to their death, there are many people along the way that could say "had i done this differently, he/she might not have died" While that may be true...i just think liability is getting out of control.

I agree with this.

Joined: 08/17/04
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I agree with Kim as well.

Joined: 04/12/03
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I'm not so sure.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police conducted a security review, and in April released a report saying the airport police force was inadequate to properly monitor the airport.

I need more details to fully make a decision, but this quote jumped out at me. It's an airport. How did all of this happen? If this young man had installed an explosive devise on the plane, would we be saying he was just stupid and it's not anyone else's fault he had access to a plane? Or would those families have legitimate lawsuits because the airport wasn't properly monitored?

GloriaInTX's picture
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

I'm not so sure.

I need more details to fully make a decision, but this quote jumped out at me. It's an airport. How did all of this happen? If this young man had installed an explosive devise on the plane, would we be saying he was just stupid and it's not anyone else's fault he had access to a plane? Or would those families have legitimate lawsuits because the airport wasn't properly monitored?

That is a whole different lawsuit. Those families would be innocent parties, he was not. It the young man installed an explosive devise on the plane should his family be able to sue that he got blown up?

Joined: 04/12/03
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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

That is a whole different lawsuit. Those families would be innocent parties, he was not. It the young man installed an explosive devise on the plane should his family be able to sue that he got blown up?

See I still don't know...it's a breach in security resulting in a death. This is serious business that he was even able to get as far as he did. I need more information on it.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

This kid ran away from home so I think the parents are looking for someone to blame for his death, that is, someone besides themselves. If this was a little kid who had wandered away from his parents at the airport, and ended up falling from a wheel well over Boston, then I think they would have a case. This was a teenager looking for an escape one way or another. I don't really care that the airport police was found after the fact to maybe not be working at the best level, although I hope that gets fixed so this airport doesn't become a terrorist target. The fact is that it's pretty much common sense to NOT climb into the wheel well of an airplane. You could fall out. You could be crushed by the mechanism. You could freeze to death when the airplane gets to altitude. We can only do so much to protect people from their own stupidity or suicide wishes.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
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I get what you were saying, but no one else was hurt in this case. This kid hurt himself. He could have done that climbing a tree in a public park. Really, I think the lawsuit is excessive. I'm not saying you can't find any legal case for lawsuit, i'm just saying I don't agree with pursuing it. Maybe he shouldn't have been there, but it just seems a bit much to me to suggest that they were responsible for him accidentally falling.

Joined: 08/17/04
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I get it too and I definitely think it warrants an investigation as to how he got this far and into the wheel but they are not responsible for his stupidity.

Joined: 05/23/12
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Everybody wants to sue. Sickening. I think a law should be passed to take out the monetary rewards of suing and just make it so we can create better standards and measures (maybe not in all cases, but lots of them anyway). Maybe these parents should instead of blaming everyone else figure out why their kid ran away. I feel bad that their son died like this..gosh it's horrible. But I don't think suing is right here.

Joined: 05/23/12
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

I'm not so sure.

I need more details to fully make a decision, but this quote jumped out at me. It's an airport. How did all of this happen? If this young man had installed an explosive devise on the plane, would we be saying he was just stupid and it's not anyone else's fault he had access to a plane? Or would those families have legitimate lawsuits because the airport wasn't properly monitored?

Breaches of security happen all of the time. Wasn't there a kid who even got on a plane without a ticket etc recently? The airline implemented new security measures. I think it's high time people took responsibility for their own selves.

Joined: 04/12/03
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"myyams" wrote:

Breaches of security happen all of the time. Wasn't there a kid who even got on a plane without a ticket etc recently? The airline implemented new security measures. I think it's high time people took responsibility for their own selves.

I find this to be stupid also. Why would one person's stupidity negate another's?

All I'm saying, is if I were on that jury, I would listen to both sides before passing judgment. Secutiy breaches at an international airport should be that frequent.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

I find this to be stupid also. Why would one person's stupidity negate another's?

Because one person's stupidity was purposeful and the other was not. If someone robs a bank is it the bank's fault because they didn't hire enough guards?

Joined: 04/12/03
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"myyams" wrote:

Everybody wants to sue. Sickening. I think a law should be passed to take out the monetary rewards of suing and just make it so we can create better standards and measures (maybe not in all cases, but lots of them anyway). Maybe these parents should instead of blaming everyone else figure out why their kid ran away. I feel bad that their son died like this..gosh it's horrible. But I don't think suing is right here.

Without large monetary rewards, companies don't always change their business practices. (e.g., Ford Pinto, tobacco companies) Also, sometimes there are life-long medical bills attached to injury. (Wasn't there a young girl whose suffered serious injuries when the pool drain suction was so severe it caused her intestinal injuries?)

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Because one person's stupidity was purposeful and the other was not. If someone robs a bank is it the bank's fault because they didn't hire enough guards?

So if they are breaching security all the time it's okay because it's not on purpose? How many people have to get by before it becomes purposeful?

As for the bank...it depends. Let's say they have been robbed 20 times before and been told to hire security and improve their security measures. They don't and it keeps happening. At some point, they have to take the necessary precautions to prevent the injury. Like in any job, a certain risk is assumed, but if the company is violating OSHA laws or a directive from the state/federal government and something happens as a direct result, the company isn't off the hook.

GloriaInTX's picture
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Without large monetary rewards, companies don't always change their business practices. (e.g., Ford Pinto, tobacco companies) Also, sometimes there are life-long medical bills attached to injury. (Wasn't there a young girl whose suffered serious injuries when the pool drain suction was so severe it caused her intestinal injuries?)

But in that case I'm pretty the girl had a right to be in the pool and wasn't performing a criminal act to be there.

GloriaInTX's picture
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

As for the bank...it depends. Let's say they have been robbed 20 times before and been told to hire security and improve their security measures. They don't and it keeps happening. At some point, they have to take the necessary precautions to prevent the injury. Like in any job, a certain risk is assumed, but if the company is violating OSHA laws or a directive from the state/federal government and something happens as a direct result, the company isn't off the hook.

No it doesn't depend. The robber should still have no right to sue. An employee maybe but not the robber.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Because one person's stupidity was purposeful and the other was not. If someone robs a bank is it the bank's fault because they didn't hire enough guards?

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

No it doesn't depend. The robber should still have no right to sue. An employee maybe but not the robber.

I missed the part where you asked if the robber had the right to sue. If the employee has the right to sue their employer, than yes, to at least some extent, it is the bank's fault.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

But in that case I'm pretty the girl had a right to be in the pool and wasn't performing a criminal act to be there.

Right. But if we got rid of the monetary awards, she wouldn't be able to collect for her bodily injury.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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To me, the security breach and the kid falling are kind of two separate issues. They should definitely investigate the security breach to make sure that the airport is safe from terrorists and the like. Having said that, I don't like the idea that people can be held liable for other people's express stupidity simply because they didn't stop them. Like, if you came to my house and climbed out on my roof, fell off, and died, do you really think that your family should be able to sue me because I didn't know you were up there and let you die? I don't. It would be one thing if I had expressly agreed to watch you and be responsible for you and then didn't watch you, but if not, I think the blame should lie on you for doing something dumb that just happened to involve my property.

ClairesMommy's picture
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

Without large monetary rewards, companies don't always change their business practices. (e.g., Ford Pinto, tobacco companies) Also, sometimes there are life-long medical bills attached to injury. (Wasn't there a young girl whose suffered serious injuries when the pool drain suction was so severe it caused her intestinal injuries?)

I do agree with the first part of your post and I think this is also the cause of damage awards increasing exponentially in recent years - that while different levels of court sometimes have a maximum/minimum you can sue for in that particular court, higher levels of court are setting the precedent for hugh monetary penalties (like against tobacco companies, as you said) and those examples are then followed in far more frivolous claims. Yes, in some instances big penalties are needed and serve a bigger purpose than to just bankrupt a company, but then you get the stupid people in life who want to pin the misfortune they brought upon themselves onto another party who's got deep pockets.

Joined: 05/23/12
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"ethanwinfield" wrote:

I find this to be stupid also. Why would one person's stupidity negate another's?

All I'm saying, is if I were on that jury, I would listen to both sides before passing judgment. Secutiy breaches at an international airport should be that frequent.

I understand we should not have security breaches but somehow nothing is completely foolproof. We tend to implement better policies along the way.

And there are other ways to make companies improve besides awarding large sums of money. I said some would have to stay but overall it should not be the norm.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

To me, the security breach and the kid falling are kind of two separate issues. They should definitely investigate the security breach to make sure that the airport is safe from terrorists and the like. Having said that, I don't like the idea that people can be held liable for other people's express stupidity simply because they didn't stop them. Like, if you came to my house and climbed out on my roof, fell off, and died, do you really think that your family should be able to sue me because I didn't know you were up there and let you die? I don't. It would be one thing if I had expressly agreed to watch you and be responsible for you and then didn't watch you, but if not, I think the blame should lie on you for doing something dumb that just happened to involve my property.

I typed and erased so many times yesterday when trying to answer this question. I kept trying to find away to say the security and his death were separate things. THIS, what you wrote, is what i was trying to say, almost exactly and couldn't find the words for it!

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
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ITA with Alissa about the breach of security. IMHO the result of the security breach was not that the kid fell out over Boston; the real result of the security breach was that the kid had access to the plane. That, in & of itself, is not necessarily a dangerous or life-threatening thing. As others said, it would be more life-threatening to the passengers if he'd placed a bomb. Once he was on the tarmac, I don't see how a nearly-full-grown 16-year-old boy could have been picked out from anyone else if he was wearing appropriate clothing and wasn't acting suspicious. There are always tons of people out there doing their various jobs. The fact is that this kid went even further with his own stupidity (or, perhaps, death wish) by attempting to stow away in the wheel well, and that is what resulted in his death, not the initial security breach. So the liability of the airport police should be very very limited IMHO if this case even goes forward. Which it should not.

Rivergallery's picture
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He was a criminal and maybe the airport should sue the family for the cost of increasing security.

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"Rivergallery" wrote:

He was a criminal and maybe the airport should sue the family for the cost of increasing security.

I prefer international airlines to be proactive in their security rather than reactive.