A flight attendant who works for Southwest Airlines is suing the carrier for wrongful death after her husband contracted Covid-19 from her.
Carol Madden is a 69-year-old Baltimore-based flight attendant who has worked for Southwest since 2016. She’s seeking more than $3 million in damages, as per the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland. She’s claiming negligence on the part of the airline.
Madden went to a one-day training session at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in July, 2020. Her husband Bill, a 73-year-old veteran and retired railroad signal engineer, drove her home from the class. Carol got sick a few days after the class, and Bill followed suit a few days later. They both tested positive for COVID. Although Carol recovered, Bill’s health deteriorated quickly. His oxygen levels decreased significantly and he died a few weeks later in hospital in York, Pennsylvania. COVID pneumonia was listed as the first cause of death.
Carol’s lawsuit claims that Southwest did not take proper precautions during the training, which caused her to catch COVID, which she then passed on to her husband. The lawsuit said that although masks were required,
- Southwest flight attendants and instructors weren’t screened for COVID-19 symptoms before or during the daylong training
- No one present was asked about COVID-19 exposure
- There was no hand sanitizer supplied
- The equipment they used, such as fire extinguishers, megaphones and the human-sized dummy used for self-defense were not sanitized between uses
Carol Madden also said that social distancing was not encouraged.
“We were at 6-foot tables, folding tables with legs. You’re not 6 feet apart. You’re maybe 4 feet or less,” Madden was quoted as saying.
Madden claims that Southwest knew a co-worker at her table had tested positive for COVID a few days after the class, but neither they nor her union ever told her. She said she found out about it via a flight attendant Facebook group she was a member of.
The lawsuit says Madden could have isolated from her husband early on if Southwest had immediately informed her of the positive test of a co-worker. But they didn’t tell her until July 27th, a full 2 weeks after her class and over a week after she began feeling sick.
In a statement, Southwest Airlines spokesman Brad Hawkins offered the airline’s sympathy to Madden and suggested that the well-being of Southwest’s employees and customers has been its “uncompromising priority” since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Southwest has taken enhanced measures to clean and maintain our aircraft, airports and work centers and follows all notification guidelines in accordance with the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” Hawkins said in a statement. “Additionally, the Southwest team works each day to ensure that our multi-layered approach to supporting our employees’ and customers’ safety stays current with research findings and public health recommendations. Southwest will continue our dedicated efforts to support our people and communities as we collectively work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic.”
Southwest Airlines has filed to dismiss the case, saying that Madden’s lawsuit alleging the airline is at fault is ‘misplaced.’
“The claims asserted in the complaint reflect an understandably emotional response to a devastating personal loss, but they are not actionable under the law,” the airline said.
This lawsuit reminds me of what I had said late last year about how easy it was to catch COVID at Walt Disney World. The lawsuit also reminds me of the one that’s currently going on against this cruise line. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens with this new lawsuit now, as well.
As of this writing, Carol Madden is still working for Southwest Airlines.
Feature Photo: Pixabay
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary