Pennsylvania Record

Monday, January 20, 2020

Settlement talks in J&J exec's tragic flight lawsuit against Southwest Airlines extended for sixth time

Federal Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Dec 6, 2019

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Southwest Airlines

PHILADELPHIA – Settlement proceedings have been granted a sixth time extension to obtain further evidence, in an action filed by a man on board the infamous Southwest Airlines flight from April 2018 where one passenger was partially sucked out of the plane and later died.

On Oct. 22, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald McHugh signed a stipulation and order to extend the deadline for the defendants to respond to plaintiff Alan Meizlik’s complaint to Feb. 19, while settlement discussions remain ongoing.

“As reported in the parties’ Nov. 27, 2018 Stipulation, plaintiff and defendants Southwest Airlines Co. (identified incorrectly in the complaint as Southwest Airlines, Inc.), Boeing Company, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, CFM International, Inc., General Electric Company (incorrectly sued as GE Aviation, LLC) and Safran USA, Inc. agreed to attempt to resolve this case informally before proceeding with litigation,” McHugh said.

“The parties have been actively engaged in settlement discussions, but anticipate that they will need additional time beyond the responsive pleading deadline set in the parties’ last stipulation (Nov. 21, 2019) to attempt to arrive at a settlement, as plaintiff continues to assemble medical records. Accordingly, the plaintiff and defendants hereby stipulate and agree, subject to the Court’s approval and in accordance with the Honorable Gerald A. McHugh’s “Guidelines for Counsel” regarding extensions of time, to extend, until Feb. 19, 2020, defendants’ date to answer or otherwise respond to plaintiff’s complaint.”

Meizlik, of Scarsdale, N.Y., first filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Sept. 21 versus Southwest Airlines Co. of Dallas, Boeing Company of Chicago, Boeing Commercial Airplanes of Renton, Wash., CFM International, Inc. and General Electric Company of Cincinnati and Safran USA, Inc. of Irving, Texas.

On April 17, 2018, Meizlik, an executive with Johnson & Johnson, was a passenger on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which left LaGuardia Airport in New York City en route to Dallas.

“He did not know, and had no way of knowing, that he was placing himself in danger by even getting on that plane. But Southwest Airlines, Inc. knew. It had known for a long time. And it did nothing about it. Just 20 minutes after takeoff, however, Meizlik's life flashed before his eyes,” according to the lawsuit.

“At approximately 11 a.m., the plane's left engine exploded. Shrapnel from the exploded engine ripped into the plane's fuselage, breaking a window. At 30,000 feet, an altitude higher than the summit of Mount Everest, the cabin depressurized.”

Meizlik alleged the rapid depressurization caused his ears to bleed, in addition to other significant physical and psychiatric injuries from which he may never recover. During the flight, the plaintiff says he believed he was going to die and sent a goodbye text message to his children.

“As a direct and proximate cause of the events aboard Flight 1380, plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer, severe personal injuries including but not limited to a cervical spinal injury involving herniations in his C-6 and C-7 discs with spinal cord impingement, closed head injury, traumatic brain injury, neurological injuries, inner ear injury, bleeding from his ears, confusion, memory loss, photophobia, dizziness and headaches, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, emotional distress and depression,” the suit stated.

Due to these catastrophic events, Flight 1380 was diverted to Philadelphia International Airport where it made an emergency landing. The passenger who had been partially ejected from the plane through its broken window, 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan, was removed from the aircraft alive and in critical condition, but later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Meizlik’s suit also made reference to an earlier, similar incident in August 2016 with Southwest Airlines Flight 3472, where media reports said “a missing fan blade with reports that the fracture surfaces showed signs of metal fatigue.”

The plaintiff charged the airline with doing nothing to remedy the plane’s structural components, leading to April 2018’s tragic events.

For counts of negligence, strict liability and breach of express and implied warranties, the plaintiff is seeking damages, jointly and severally, for compensatory damages and punitive damages, together with lawful interest and costs of suit.

The plaintiff is represented by Thomas N. Sweeney of Messa & Associates, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by J. Denny Shupe, Jonathan M. Stern and Stephen J. Shapiro of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, Albert G. Bixler of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, all in Philadelphia, and Patrick Bradley of Reed Smith, in Princeton, N.J.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:18-cv-04084

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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Johnson & JohnsonSOUTHWEST AIRLINES

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