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Emotional distress lawsuit targets United after catastrophic engine failure

The lawsuit calls the ordeal a near-death experience and says United was negligent in its infliction of emotional distress.

DENVER — United Airlines is facing a class-action lawsuit over emotional distress after an emergency landing last month in Denver, according to paperwork filed Sunday in a U.S. District Court of Colorado. 

On Sat., Feb. 20, United Airlines Flight 328 — en route from Denver to Hawaii — was forced to make an emergency landing at Denver International Airport (DIA) after the right engine exploded shortly after takeoff. No one aboard the flight was injured.

The explosion caused debris to fall from the sky throughout Broomfield. The largest piece, the engine cowling, landed in a front yard on Elmwood Street near East 13th Avenue. Other pieces of varying sizes landed in yards and streets. One piece punched a hole in the roof of a home. No injuries were reported from the falling debris.

RELATED: Here's what happened to United Flight 328 and the investigation so far

The lawsuit calls the ordeal a near-death experience and says United was negligent in its infliction of emotional distress. Questions have surfaced about inspections on the plane's engines after the initial examination of the engine revealed damaged fan blades. 

RELATED: Specialist to examine United Airlines Flight 328 fractured engine fan blade

RELATED: 'I was prepared to tell them goodbye': Hoosier onboard Denver flight recounts moment engine exploded

The lawsuit also claims "most (if not all) passengers, suffered physical symptoms as a result of this intense experience, including: nausea, tachycardia, shaking, symptoms of shock, and following the flight, insomnia."

"This emotional distress was entirely foreseeable and would not have occurred but for United’s breach of duty," the document reads.

Jonathan Corbett, a technology expert turned civil rights attorney, is representing a Carmel, Indiana man in the lawsuit, which asks for the following relief:

  • Actual damages for emotional distress, in an amount to be determined by a jury. 
  • Pre- and post-judgment interest as allowed by law. 
  • Attorney’s fees for this action. 
  • Cost of the action.
  • Any other such relief as the court deems appropriate.  

United released the following statement about the lawsuit: 

"We remain proud of the ability of our employees to safely get our UA328 customers back to the airport and ultimately on to their destination later that same day. Safety remains our highest priority - for our employees and our customers. Given the ongoing federal investigation, we will not comment further on this lawsuit at this time."

All 777s with the same Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engine as Flight 328 have since been grounded, and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

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