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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2808
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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Hi, Please see below the situation I am facing with Delta

Customer Question

Hi, Please see below the situation I am facing with Delta after a shocking turn of events with my 71 year old mother on flight 007 Dubai to Atlanta 28th December 2012. To date no reply from Delta and I'm not sure if we should seek legal help. XXXXXXXXXX XXX Dear Sir or Madam: I have written to your Complaints Department about an extremely disturbing and traumatic experience my elderly mother endured while in your care on one of your flights. My letter was sent immediately on her arrival at home where she broke down emotionally and was only then able to confront the experience and tell me the details. As yet I have neither had a response nor any acknowledgement of my communication with you. I find this level of customer service to be extremely poor given the nature and seriousness of these events on one of your flights. My mother [XXXX XXX XXX] was a passenger on Delta 007 from Dubai, UAE to Atlanta, GA on the 28th December 2012. She just arrived home in Panama City Beach, FL and gave me a call to tell me she was verbally and physically abused and assaulted continually during her flight by a very drunk passenger. He touched her inappropriately, and kissed her numerous times despite her asking him politely to stop. When she asked him to stop he spoke to her in a sexually inappropriate way and was very intimidating, using profanity and swearing a lot. My mother is 71 years old and was traveling alone, she does not drink alcohol and, is a devout Christian of strong morals. The flight was scheduled for 15 to 16 hours and throughout the majority of this time my mother, with your staff observing, had to endure this disgusting and shocking treatment. My mother was scared and intimidated by this man and was afraid to make a fuss or complain because she was terrified of his actions and the possibility of him becoming violent. With only 3 hours remaining of the flight my mother actually had to get up and insist she received help from your staff. It turned out this passenger had his own bottle of alcohol under his seat and had been drinking continuously throughout the flight to a point of extreme inebriation. This is a horrific story of torment and abuse and to make it worse, if that’s possible, your cabin crew showed no empathy or took any responsible action despite: 1. Claiming they were suspicious as to the extent of the drunkenness shown by the passenger. 2. Continued to supply him with ice but no accompanying beverage of any kind. 3. Receiving complaints from a fellow passenger seated in the same row [my mother was in seat 55D aisle]. 4. Observing and assisting the drunken passenger who managed to lock himself on more than one occasion requiring intervention by your staff to get him out. My mother was scared, traumatized and, tortured by this drunken passenger. This is totally unacceptable at any time but due to the lack of appropriate action by your staff she went through this ordeal for more than 12 hours. The action of the cabin crew with 3 hours remaining of the flight was to move my mom to another seat, and to finally remove the bottle from the drunken passenger was way too little and far too late. All credit to her that she managed to stay focused enough to make a connecting flight to get home. Our preferred airline to fly my mom to Dubai each year is Delta, despite having alternative options my husband arranged and paid for the flight. We put our faith in your organization and staff to take care of her and keep her safe, clearly on this occasion not only have you failed to take care of an old woman travelling alone but you totally neglected that a drunken passenger was acting so inappropriately despite the cabin crews suspicions and a complaint from another passenger. Given the lack of response from your customer services/complaints department I am left with a feeling that Delta as an organization have no problem with condoning the incident and the treatment my mother received and in addition you support your cabin crew and the way in which they dealt with the situation. At this stage I am consulting with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division and the Transport Safety Authority with respect to legal action and making knowledge of these events public. Your company and staff have failed to comply with the contract of carriage entered into when you accepted to allow my mother to fly on your airline and you demonstrated a total lack of care of which you hold complete responsibility during the flight. I expect to hear from you in the immediate future. Yours sincerely XXXXX XXXXX XXX

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.
Hello JACUSTOMER,

I'm sorry your mother had to go through this experience. You possibly have a legal claim against Delta. Airlines have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to protect their passengers from other passengers, and if they failed to do so your mother can be compensated for her injuries. Your case would hinge on whether of not the Delta crew and had notice of the drunken passenger's condition and actions. And based on all that you wrote, it certainly seems that the crew was aware of the passenger's condition and actions towards your mother and other passengers.

How much your mother could possibly be compensated is really the question here. Certainly I believe she would be entitled to a refund for the cost of the flight, and perhaps a few thousand dollars for the experience she has to endure. If she suffered any lasting physical or psychological injuries, then the compensation could rise significantly.

For these reasons, perhaps sending essentially the same letter from a local attorney demanding a specific amount you wish to be compensated for would be worth your while. The letter should contain a warning that a civil action will be commenced if your mother is not compensated.

In addition, your mother would clearly have a civil and criminal claim against the drunken passenger for assault and battery. And perhaps that is another avenue you may wish to pursue. So, in your communications with Delta you should ask for the name and address of the drunken passenger so that a possibly criminal complaint and civil action can be brought against that passenger.

A letter from an attorney is likely to get more attention. But of course you have to weigh the cost of hiring the attorney against how much you wish to be compensated for.

Again, I am sorry your mother had to endure this experience, and I wish you good luck.

Thomas
Thomas Swartz, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 2808
Experience: Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
Thomas Swartz and 10 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Thomas,

The PA to XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX (CEO XXXXX XXXXXXX) called me tonight to tell me that they have investigated the incident and they have turned the case over to their insurance company.

She said the insurance company will be dealing with us going forward. What should we expect? What should I be asking?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Barbara

Expert:  Thomas Swartz replied 1 year ago.
You should expect an insurance claim agent to be contacting you, giving you a claim number, asking what happened to your mother, what injuries she suffered etc. If possible you should be able to document any injuries your mother suffered. If she saw a doctor, therapist etc., you should be able to document all that, as well as the bills you paid to these providers. You should get the name of the insurance company, the representative and the claim number. I can't tell you how much you should be asking. Certainly the cost of the flight, and the rest depends on how much you can quantify for the rest of any physical and psychological injuries.

Thomas

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