January 29, 2009, - 12:36 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
If most of us reading this were passengers on US Airways Flight 1594, we’d be thanking G-d that we’re still alive.
But not Joe Hart and several other passengers who landed in the Hudson River two weeks ago, instead of dying in a crash. They are consulting attorneys. And since they can’t sue the birds that caused this, they’ll sue US Airways. It’s the “deepest pockets” pursuit, which motivates America’s ever-growing litigation explosion.
US Airways sent a check of $5,000 each to passengers aboard the failed flight. But for some that just ain’t enough. It’s the American way–sue ’em and screw ’em:
Many US Airways (LCC) passengers who endured a crash landing in the Hudson River . . . say they appreciate the $5,000 that the airline has offered – but some say it’s not enough.
Joe Hart, a salesman from Charlotte who suffered a bloody nose and bruises, says he “would like to be made whole for the incident.”
It’s too soon after the accident to determine what emotional distress he has suffered, he says.
He’s one of 150 passengers who were dramatically rescued Jan. 15, when the Charlotte-bound Airbus A320 jet safely ditched into the frigid river off Midtown Manhattan. A pilot on the plane told air-traffic controllers that birds struck the plane before both engines failed after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
After the crash, US Airways sent passengers a letter of apology, a $5,000 check to assist “with immediate needs” and reimbursement for the ticket.
Exactly how much compensation is appropriate is a question after crashes.
The National Air Disaster Alliance & Foundation, a safety advocacy group, says $5,000 is not enough. . . .
Hart and another passenger, Dave Sanderson, say they each left more than $5,000 worth of items on the plane.
Nothing wrong with insisting on being reimbursed for the entire cost of your items. But that’s not what this is about. Some passengers will be suing for far more than the value of their items.
US Airways Vice President Jim Olson says that an insurance claims specialist is contacting passengers and that they’ll be reimbursed for expenses or losses above $5,000.
The airline wants to ensure no passenger is “losing money for the inconvenience or anything lost during the accident,” he says. . . .
In addition to recovering losses, Hart says he’s concerned about having trouble flying. He’s flown on six planes since the accident, and each flight has gotten “progressively more difficult.”
He says he was tense, sweated and “felt every bit of turbulence” on a Los Angeles-to-Philadelphia flight last week, though it wasn’t that turbulent a flight.
Hart says he has talked to a lawyer in North Carolina but hasn’t decided whether to take any legal action.
“I want to see how things play out with US Airways,” he says. “I’m hopeful US Airways understands the significance of the incident.”
Kreindler & Kreindler, a New York law firm that has represented plaintiffs in crashes, says it has been contacted by several passengers on the US Airways flight.
The firm’s lawyers are determining what injuries and emotional distress passengers may have suffered, and what parties might be liable under New York state law, says Noah Kushlefsky, a partner in the firm.
Um, we know who is “liable”: birds who disabled the plane’s engines. Mr. Hart and his lawyer need to ask the birds whether they “understand the significance of the incident.” I think US Airways understands its significance quite well.
Sadly, Mr. Hart doesn’t understand the significance of being fortunate enough to survive against the odds.
UPDATE: I think I found the perfect lawyer for those who want to sue US Airways for saving their lives: