A few weeks ago, United Airlines made headlines around the world after a terrible engine failure. A class action lawsuit has now been filed over the incident.
The basics of United 777 engine failure
On February 20, 2021, the UA328 from Denver to Honolulu suffered serious engine damage shortly after takeoff. The Boeing 777-200 had a total of 241 people on board, including 231 passengers and 10 crew members.
The right engine caught fire shortly after takeoff and debris fell from the sky into the Denver neighborhoods. Thanks to the excellent work of the pilots, the plane landed again in Denver just under 20 minutes after take-off. Fortunatly nobody was hurt.
VIDEO: United Boeing 777 # UA328 Engine failure moments after taking off from Denver International Airport on February 20, 2021. Aircraft landed safely. 231 passengers; 10 crew members; 0 injuries. Well done by the crew pic.twitter.com/LcJpGgwDdz
– AeroSkippah (@AeroSkippah) February 21, 2021
An interesting twist in the story is that the replacement aircraft United used for these passengers was a 777-200, which suffered a very similar incident a few years ago.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published its first results on the incident.
United faces a class action lawsuit for engine damage
A class action lawsuit has been filed against United Airlines over the UA328 incident. A brief description of the case can be found here and the full lawsuit can be found here. The plaintiff is attempting to recover from negligent infliction of emotional stress on behalf of himself and all other passengers on board who faced a similar situation.
The lawsuit boils down to:
- United has a duty to inspect and maintain its aircraft with due care
- It is argued that something that is so disastrous has been shown to have been neglected
- United’s neglect of duty resulted in passengers becoming severely emotional
- This emotional strain was completely predictable and would not have occurred without United’s breach of duty
To elaborate on this, it is alleged that United Airlines negligently failed to properly inspect the fan blades, especially since a similar incident occurred a few years ago and similar recommendations were made. Depending on the suit:
Preliminary results of an NTSB investigation into this incident showed that at least 1 engine fan blade was torn off during the flight due to “metal fatigue” and at least 1 additional fan blade was taken along, resulting in a “non-contained engine event”. ”
It is possible to inspect fan blades for metal fatigue using techniques such as “Fluorescent Penetrant Inspection” and “Thermal Acoustic Imaging”. In fact, the NTBS ordered that all aircraft use the same engine models after the incident.
UNITED’s failure to ensure that what happened in 2018 did not happen again in 2021 is, in all respects, an astonishing failure of appropriate security practices.
The lawsuit alleges that passengers suffered serious emotional distress as a result of this negligence:
The plaintiff, as well as, according to information and belief, most (if not all) of the passengers reasonably feared their lives due to the disorganized condition of their aircraft, which started at an altitude of more than 3 km and lasted approximately 18 minutes.
The plaintiff, and according to information and belief, most (if not all) of the passengers suffered physical symptoms as a result of this intense experience, including: nausea, tachycardia, tremors, symptoms of shock and post-flight insomnia.
A United Airlines 777 had a pretty terrible engine failure and now the airline is facing a lawsuit from passengers. I’m curious to see what happens to this case (we may never find out as this could be dealt with privately).
I firmly believe that this incident was terrifying for the passengers on board. I’ve flown millions of kilometers and experienced a few things, but that would still have freaked me out.
That being said, I’m obviously not a lawyer so I’m not sure how much legal value this case has. If the investigation reveals that this incident was similar to the 2018 incident and could have been avoided by properly inspecting the fan blades, do I feel like they may have a case? The question is, what kind of dollar amount can you put in for the emotional strain on passengers?
What do you think of this United Airlines lawsuit? I would particularly like to hear from lawyers.