CHICAGO, Cook County — A Chicago law firm has filed lawsuits on behalf of two passengers aboard a United Airlines flight whose engine exploded on Feb. 20 shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport (DIA).
One of the engines of UA Flight 328 to Honolulu exploded about four minutes after takeoff from DIA and rained down airplane parts over a park and houses in Broomfield.
The Boeing 777-200 returned to DIA for an emergency landing 24 minutes later. No injuries were reported on the ground or on the plane, which had 229 passengers and 10 crew members. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the explosion.
> Video above: Passenger on the flight that dropped debris over Broomfield talks about what he witnessed.
Clifford Law Offices, based in Chicago, filed two lawsuits Friday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., on behalf of two passengers who live in Hawaii. According to the law firm, the civil lawsuits ask for at least $50,000 in damages due to significant trauma and distress.
"The passengers on this flight thought it was going to be their last," said Robert Clifford, senior partner in the aviation law firm, in a news release. "Imagine as a passenger looking out the window of a plane and helplessly watching the engine on fire. The terror you experience lasts a lifetime."
Attorney Whitney Traylor, a 9NEWS legal expert, stated it's often difficult to prove emotional trauma. He explained it would be up to the attorney to potentially use a mental health expert and paint the picture of what happened in February and how the trauma can impact someone for a long time.
"These are all factors that go into it and of course, the airline knows this as well," "These things go into their analysis in terms of, should we settle, how much we should settle for and things like that."
But before anyone can settle, aviation expert Greg Feith told 9NEWS the NTSB investigation needs to be complete to figure out who is responsible and what exactly went wrong.
"It's really easy to look at it on the surface and say this is a traumatic event and people should be held accountable that's true," he said. "That's what the investigative process is all about."
The lawsuits filed on behalf of Joseph McGinley and Jonathan Strawn claim that United Airlines:
- Did not provide a safe aircraft;
- Did not provide a properly maintained, service and inspected aircraft for the flight;
- Did not adequately and properly inspect, maintain and service the aircraft's engines, including the fan blades and other parts;
- Did not adequately and properly instruct and train its aircraft service personnel regarding the inspection, maintenance and service of the aircraft's engines;
- And was otherwise negligent.
9NEWS did reach out to United Airlines, and a representative stated they did not want to comment on this matter.
United Airlines is also facing a class-action lawsuit over emotional distress after the emergency landing, according to paperwork filed in March in a U.S. District Court of Colorado.
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