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Sunday, May 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Passenger sues airline over runway runoff

Woman says emergency landing caused severe mental problems

Jewel Thomas sits in front of a photo of skids marks leading to the plane she was on that ran off a runway two years ago.  (Associated Press)
Jewel Thomas sits in front of a photo of skids marks leading to the plane she was on that ran off a runway two years ago. (Associated Press)
By George Tibbits Associated Press

SEATTLE – A woman has sued American Airlines, saying she was traumatized when the plane she was on ran off the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, passenger Jewel Thomas said she has suffered severe mental and emotional problems because of the incident on Sept. 22, 2008. American Flight 268, a Boeing 757, was flying nonstop from Seattle to New York when it made an emergency landing at O’Hare, skidding onto the grass next to the runway.

“That day changed my whole life – it changed my whole world,” Thomas said.

The Bellevue, Wash., woman said she is on unpaid disability from her job at Microsoft.

No physical injuries were reported among the 185 passengers or seven crew members, and the aircraft had little damage beyond its landing gear and blown tires.

Thomas contended in her lawsuit that shortly after takeoff, the flight crew received multiple warnings about problems with the plane’s electrical system.

Thomas’ lawsuit alleges the flight crew should have diverted to another airport before key systems were crippled. It accused American Airlines and the plane’s two pilots of negligence and seeks unspecified damages.

Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline, said that the company had not seen the complaint and had no comment.

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