Woman Ties Her Stroke to Toxic Leak on Plane
CHICAGO (CN) - A known neurotoxin used in nerve gas and other fumes leaked into an airplane's passenger cabin, causing one woman to have a near-fatal stroke, she claims in court.
Vida Chenier sued the Boeing Co. pro se in Cook County Court.
On March 26, 2008, Chenier allegedly boarded a Boeing 757 aircraft operated as American Airlines flight 2073 from O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"Approximately three or four hours after flight number 2073 departed ORD on March 26, 2008, Vida began experiencing hypoxia, also known as oxygen deprivation," the complaint states. "She felt extreme pressure in her ears, which began to pop and ache."
At the same time, the aircraft allegedly experienced problems with its ventilation system that allowed toxic fumes to enter the passenger cabin.
"The toxic fumes to which Vida was exposed comprised bleed air," the complaint states. "Bleed air is the outside air fraction of the cabin supply air that is first compressed in the aircraft engines or auxiliary power unit and which can become contaminated with high temperature oil or hydraulic fluid and their byproducts."
Chenier said she began having difficulty breathing and coughing violently three or four hours after takeoff.
Her chest burned, her ears popped, her head ached and the urge to vomit was strong, according to the complaint.
After landing in San Juan, Chenier allegedly began coughing up blood.
She suffered "a nearly fatal stroke" about a week later, according to the complaint.
Chenier allegedly discovered that leaking bleed air could have caused her stroke in 2009 when she spoke with an American Airlines pilot at an estate sale in Chicago.
"The pilot told Vida that bleed air is common onboard American Airlines flights, and its existence is shared knowledge among those in the airline industry, but less so among the general public," the complaint statees.
Bleed air can allegedly contain tricresyl phosphate, an anti-wearing agent added to jet engine oil and aircraft hydraulic fluid, which is also a known neurotoxin, and an ingredient in nerve gas.
"Vida's doctors attribute her stroke, illness, and symptoms to her exposure to the contaminated air on the subject aircraft," the complaint states.
It adds: "At all relevant times hereto, Boeing knew or reasonably should have known about the risks of bleed air contamination."
Chenier and her husband seek damages for negligence. Records show that the couple also sued Boeing in 2011, and Vida sued American Airlines the year before that.