The family of a man who suffered a severe and life-altering stroke during an American Airlines flight from Miami to Madrid, Spain, claim a pilot cleared him to fly without first obtaining medical advice despite his wife raising concerns about his condition shortly before takeoff.
Nearly two years after Jesus Plasencia was left in a critical condition following his stroke, he still can’t speak, write or walk and has to have round-the-clock assistance to do normal everyday activities like bathing, going to the toilet or eating.
In a lawsuit filed in a Northern Califonia district court last week, Plasencia’s family claim the airline dismissed his wife’s concerns, only for him to suffer a massive stroke while the plane was flying above the Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the isolated position of the plane, the pilots were then unable to immediately divert to get Plasencia specialist medical care and it was “many hours” until the flight arrived in Madrid where he was transported to the hospital.
Plasencia remained in critical condition for three weeks before he was eventually able to be medically repatriated to the United States. His recovery, however, is still ongoing.
The incident took place on November 8, 2021, when Plasencia and his wife were traveling from San Francisco to Madrid with a stopover in Miami. The first flight was trouble-free but shortly after boarding the second flight in Miami, Plasencia “experienced a sudden inability to pick up his phone and began speaking gibberish”.
His wife immediately feared that her husband was suffering a stroke and called for flight attendants to help but by the time the crew had arrived, Plasencia had regained his ability to speak and had no knowledge of what had just happened.
A flight attendant called one of the pilots to assess the situation but he allegedly didn’t appear to take the concerns seriously.
Plasencia was cleared to fly by the pilot, although official medical advice was never sought according to the lawsuit. Like many airlines, AA has access to professional 24/7 medical advice, both in the air or at the gate, with doctors able to assess symptoms and advise on the best course of action.
Flight attendants also occasionally call on medically trained passengers to assist in the event of a medical emergency, and in this case, Plasencia’s family say they have identified a travel physician who was on the flight who had 30 years of experience dealing with travel medical emergencies.
It was only after Plasencia suffered his life-altering stroke, however, that the crew for the assistance of medically trained passengers. There were several good samaritans who came forward to help, but the lawsuit alleges that they commented on the lack of resources contained within AA’s onboard medical kit.
The family is suing American Airlines for negligence and has demanded an unspecified amount in compensation. American Airlines did not reply to a request for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.