The widow and daughter of Othon Cortes, who died on the final leg of his trip home from Barcelona, claims he was poisoned by the chicken meal he ate on the American Airlines flight from Spain to New York’s JFK Airport on May 18.
Cortes, 73, complained of “discomfort and pain that included sharp stomach cramps and sudden thirst and other clear outward manifestation of severe physical illness,” according to CNN.
The deceased’s wife, Raquel, said her husband’s condition was “expressed and obvious” to the airline’s staff, the Miami New Times reported, but he was still permitted to board the plane anyway.
Cortes grew more ill during the flight, complaining of nausea and shortness of breath, and became unresponsive during a cardiac event. An emergency landing was made in Norfolk, Va., where he was pronounced dead.
The suit alleges "AA was negligent in allowing Othon to board the domestic flight, failing to provide medical attention and waiting too long to (make) an emergency landing."
The U.S. Department of Transportation told MSNBC that it was not aware of any complaints of airlines that should have prevented a passenger from “boarding due to illness but who nevertheless were allowed to fly.”
The plaintiffs are claiming the chicken was contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium perfingens, according to International Business Times. The bacteria is one of the most commonly reported illnesses from tainted food, according to the Food and Drug Administration, but is rarely fatal.
MSNBC reported that Robert Quigley, regional medical director of the Americas Region for International SOS, said that most food poisoning symptoms take 12 to 24 hours to appear, “although certain types of very virulent bacteria do manifest within six hours.”
American Airlines refused to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed on Nov. 23 in Miami court.
LSG Sky Chefs, a German company that produces airline meals for more than 300 airlines, is also being sued. But the company says it will seek to dismiss the suit, claiming it did not cater the Cortes’ flight.
—JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM