Stewardesses Sue Weather Service Over Turbulence Injuries

December 21, 2009

A pair of Alaska Airlines flight attendants injured when a 2007 flight hit air turbulence are filing a legal claim against a weather-forecasting service and the U.S. government.

Donna Dacko and Inga Isakson were flying from Seattle to Ontario, Calif., on Dec. 25, 2007, when the aircraft hit “previously unreported severe turbulence” before landing, according to the claim filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Isakson and Dacko both suffered injuries because of the turbulence, according to a report in The Seattle Times.

Isakson slammed her head against a metal chair arm and on a metal frame beneath a passenger seat, according to the claim. It says she lost consciousness, a pool of blood surrounded her head, and she was seen “frothing at the mouth.”

Dacko hit her head on the ceiling of the aircraft and was thrown for at least six rows of seats, landing on Isakson, the claim said.

Both women were hospitalized in California. Dacko has undergone several surgeries and remains injured, the claim said.

Their claims are a precursor to a lawsuit.

In the claim, the women say Weather Service International was negligent in forecasting the weather and not informing them of any “hazardous weather” forecast for the flight route.

They also named the government in the claim, contending the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Air Traffic Organization should have warned them about the severe weather.

The two women are seeking to have WSI pay for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress and lost wages.

“These injuries were entirely preventable,” said aviation attorney Alisa Brodkowitz, who is representing both women. “No one, neither the crew nor the passengers, should have experienced this horrific event.”

The claim was filed this week because of an apparent statute of limitations that expires Dec. 25, Brodkowitz said.

A spokeswoman for WSI, based in Massachusetts, declined to comment to The Times on Friday. Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, also declined to comment.

Marianne Lindsey, a spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines, which is owned by Alaska Air Group Inc., said the company was not aware of the legal claim.

WSI provides weather reports for several airlines, national media, electrical utilities and package-delivery companies, according to the company’s Web site.

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