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Passenger Sues Lufthansa After Severe Turbulence Launched Him Into The Air, Resulting in a Fractured Back

Passenger Sues Lufthansa After Severe Turbulence Launched Him Into The Air, Resulting in a Fractured Back

a plane in the air

A passenger onboard a Lufthansa flight from Austin to Frankfurt last March is suing the German flag carrier after claiming severe turbulence that he says the airline should have avoided threw him into the air, resulting in a lumbar back fracture and disc herniation.

Elwaleed Sidahmed filed the lawsuit in a Texas district court last week, alleging that the airline failed to heed weather warnings and flew straight into a large swathe of severe thunderstorms moments before the passenger plane was rocked by extreme turbulence.

At least seven passengers and crew were sent to the hospital after the Airbus A330 hit clear air turbulence, causing the plane to suddenly drop and sending anyone who wasn’t strapped in flying towards the ceiling.

Lufthansa flight LH469 departed Austin at around 5 pm on March 1, 2023, and the plane was flying at around 37,000 feet over Tennessee when the turbulence suddenly struck.

Photos shared on social media following the incident showed debris from the main meal service strewn around the cabin after the aircraft suddenly ‘plummeted’ without warning.

But Elwaleed says the turbulence shouldn’t have been unexpected and that the airline had plenty of warning that rough air could have affected the flight. Multiple weather warnings advised of thunderstorms along the flight path, while reports from other pilots on flight ahead of LH469 warned of turbulence en route.

Despite these warnings, Elwaleed says Lufthansa ‘negligently’ chose to fly directly through the area of bad weather, knowing that this could result in severe turbulence. Even so, the pilots didn’t switch on the seatbelt signs at the moment before the turbulence hit.

Elwaleed wasn’t wearing his seatbelt at the time of the incident, so when the turbulence struck, he was thrown against the cabin ceiling before being ‘slammed’ back into his seat, leading to his serious injuries.

After encountering the area of severe turbulence, the pilots then continued to fly for nearly two hours before the plane diverted to Washington Dulles, and some of the injured passengers had to be stretchered off to waiting ambulances.

Just before landing, the flight attendants ordered passengers to delete cellphone footage of the aftermath of the accident, citing German privacy laws. Elwaleed says this decision likely resulted in the destruction of important evidence.

Lufthansa has not yet responded to the complaint.

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