U.S. passengers file suit against Southwest over fatal engine explosion

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Eight passengers have sued Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) over a catastrophic engine blowout in April that killed a passenger and injured several others.

FILE PHOTO: Emergency personnel monitor the damaged engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which diverted to the Philadelphia International Airport this morning after the airline crew reported damage to one of the aircraft’s engines, on a runway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S. April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Makela

The plaintiffs, eight passengers from Flight 1380 on April 17 and one passenger’s husband, filed suit on Tuesday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York.

Passengers Cindy Candy Arenas, Jaky Alyssa Arena, Jiny Alexa Arenas, Elhadji Cisse, Donald Kirkland, Beverly Kirkland, Connor Brown, and Cassandra Adams, and Cindy Arenas’ husband, Joe Leos Arenas, allege that Southwest acted negligently in its responsibilities to maintain and repair its aircraft and aircraft components.

“A passenger was sucked into the open window, and the other passengers, including Plaintiffs, were confronted with their greatest fear, the overwhelming horror of being trapped in a plane about to crash,” the suit alleges.

Another passenger, Lilia Chavez, filed suit against the airline in April.

The incident occurred when a CFM56-7B engine on one of Southwest’s Boeing 737-700 jets blew apart in midair, shattering a plane window, flinging shrapnel and killing passenger Jennifer Riordan, one of 149 people aboard. The flight was headed from New York to Dallas.

The episode was the first fatality on a U.S. commercial passenger airline since 2009.

Also named in the lawsuit are Boeing Co (BA.N), France’s Safran S.A., General Electric Aviation and CFM International, the manufacturers behind the engine that broke apart. CFM is a transatlantic joint-venture co-owned by GE and Safran.

Southwest has faced extreme scrutiny in the months since the accident, and federal regulators are probing the events that led to the engine explosion. The incident has raised concerns about the safety of similar engines.

Southwest and Boeing declined to comment. GE could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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