Turbulence Injuries Results in Montreal Convention Lawsuit

Case Title: Khaligh, et al. v. Lufthansa

On August 6, 2003, Lufthansa Flight 440 flew through severe turbulence, resulting in minor damages to the aircraft and 45 injured people on board. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an Instrument Flight Rules flight plan was filed from Frankfurt, Germany, destined for George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. When the turbulence occurred, the plane had been flying in and out of clouds, and the “fasten seatbelts” light was on. The flight attendants were serving food and drinks. The pilot knew there was turbulence to the southwest and considered altering the flight path but decided not to. After flying into a cloud and encountering a change in density, he encountered severe turbulence. The captain stated it felt like a sharp down-and-up movement, throwing “everything in the cockpit up into the air.” Anyone who did not have their seatbelt on flew up and into the baggage compartments overhead. Several flight attendants were injured.

Many passengers were German high school-aged exchange students, some of whom had never traveled abroad before and were terrified. The pilot informed the controller of the turbulence and requested to divert the flight to the west. Since there were no life-threatening injuries on board, he received permission to continue to Houston. Slack Davis Sanger represented several passengers on the airplane who suffered serious neck, back, and facial injuries. One of these clients required spinal surgery. All of them suffered emotional trauma as well as physical injuries. Ladd Sanger settled these cases under the Montreal Convention, securing settlements that provided for the medical care his clients needed.

Ladd Sanger is an attorney and a licensed pilot who focuses on aviation accidents, including product liability, product litigation, and representing clients who have been injured as a result of aviation accidents. His experience as a pilot helps him understand the technical aspects of aviation crashes.

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