Coronavirus Raises Awareness of Airline Passenger Safety

Posted on March 5, 2020 in Aviation

With the spread of the Coronavirus, airlines are under scrutiny for more passenger safety. We may see more claims like the one made by a New Jersey woman who says she contracted tuberculosis on a 2018 flight from Nigeria because Ethiopian Airlines negligently seated a contagious passenger next to her and refused her request to change her seat. Enworom v. Ethiopian Airlines et al., No. 20-cv-1356, complaint filed, 2020 WL 877697 (D.N.J. Feb. 10, 2020).

Airline “Knew or Should Have Known”

In her complaint filed in February the plaintiff alleges the airline knew or should have known that the passenger had tuberculosis and was “unfit to travel by air with other passengers, without being quarantined, or at all.” The plaintiff says she was flying from Nigeria to Newark, New Jersey, on Feb. 11, 2018, on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 508. On a stop in Lomé, Togo, the airline picked up a passenger and seated her next to the plaintiff, the suit says. She alleges that she “passionately pleaded” with the flight attendants to move to another seat as Doe “coughed incessantly” for the duration of the 12-hour flight, but they refused her requests. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, suspecting she had contracted during the flight, contacted the plaintiff soon after she arrived in the United States, the suit says. She was required to submit to testing that confirmed she had the disease, according to the suit.