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More than two years have passed since a harrowing incident grounded United Airlines Flight 1175 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Now, the airline and two other companies involved in airline manufacturing are facing a lawsuit for alleged negligence.

Gail Cassidy, a resident of California and Guam, is seeking no less than $1 million in punitive damages each from United, the Boeing Company and Pratt & Whitney, an aircraft engines manufacturer. She is also seeking compensatory damages from all three companies under various causes.

The suit was initially filed in the Superior Court of Guam on Feb. 12, a day before the two-year anniversary of the incident. On Monday, United filed a notice at the District Court of Guam removing the matter from local purview and into the federal court.

There doesn't appear to be any opposition or responses filed yet by defendants at either the local or federal court.

Flight 1175 was traveling to Honolulu from San Francisco when it lost one of two engines in midair on Feb. 13, 2018.

The route should be familiar to anyone traveling back to Guam from the mainland United States and according to the lawsuit, many Guam residents were aboard the flight in addition to Cassidy.

'Catastrophic failure'

It was around noon, as the plane descended through 32,700 feet, when passengers and crew heard a loud explosion, the suit stated.

"The right engine of the aircraft sustained a catastrophic failure, where the engine self-destructed in an uncontained event, and projected metal fragments at high velocity against the rest of the aircraft," it added.

The automatic pilot and throttle controls were disconnected by the explosion and the plane began to roll and shake violently, according to the suit. The plane captain managed to wrestle the craft out of the roll but Cassidy had been thrown from her seat and suffered significant physical injuries.

Fearing her imminent death, Cassidy attempted to call her son "to tell him she was not going to see him again, but there was no answer," the suit stated.

Reports from another passenger at the time of the incident described a collective fear that the plane's other engine would also fail. Another passenger reported that it was the scariest flight of her life.

The captain was ultimately able to perform an emergency landing in Hawaii. However, passengers had suffered "egregious damage" during the incident, according to the suit.

The Cockpit Voice Recorder Factual Report indicated that flight attendants were first briefed about the situation nearly 30 minutes after the explosion and roll, meaning neither the cabin crew nor the passengers were informed about the condition of the aircraft until that time, the suit stated.

After landing in Honolulu, passengers were allegedly moved to their connecting flights with no inquiry or assistance from United about their psychological or physical well-being.

As a result of the event, Cassidy suffered severe mental and emotional injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder, in addition to physical injuries.

United had a duty as well as an obligation to its passengers to ensure that the plane was safe for travel, and it failed in those duties, according to the suit.

Similarly, Boeing allegedly failed its responsibility to ensure the aircraft and component engine sold to United were reasonably safe.

And following that logic, P&W was also negligent for its role in providing an allegedly dangerous engine to Boeing, according to the suit, which notes other engine-related incidents on Boeing aircraft.

Earlier incidents

One took place in August 2016, when a Southwest Airlines flight suffered catastrophic engine failure. The next year, another engine failure occurred during a Southwest Airlines flight, which resulted in the death of a passenger, the suit stated.

In May 2019, a Boeing aircraft operated by Venezolana Airlines experienced an engine failure that forced an immediate landing, and again in October of that year, a Boeing 777 and another Boeing aircraft both experienced uncontained engine failures, according to the suit.

All defendants were allegedly aware of the prior engine failures, the propensity of failure and serious implications that could result from such failure.

"Defendant P&W and Boeing only made a meager effort to address the danger by issuing a technical bulletin urging its customers, including defendant United, to conduct more frequent ultrasonic inspections of the engine fan," the suit stated.

And United, in turn, allegedly failed to conduct the recommended ultrasonic inspections.

Cassidy is seeking jury trial. She is represented by the law firm of Civille & Tang. United is represented by the Camacho Calvo Law Group.


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