Family Sues SW for Medical Fatality

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Southwest Airlines failed to help a passenger in medical distress who later died at a hospital, the man’s family claims in court.
     The family of the late Richard Ilczyszyn claims Southwest Airlines flight crew members on the Sept. 19, 2014 flight from Oakland to Orange County heard Ilczyszyn in pain in a plane bathroom, then lied to investigators that he had barricaded himself in there.
     Ilczyszyn died at Hoag Memorial Hospital from a bilateral pulmonary artery thromboembolism, according to the lawsuit in Alameda County Court. Doctors determined he had been deprived of oxygen on the plane for 33 minutes.
     The family claims Ilczyszyn went in stress to the bathroom 10 minutes before landing and flight crew members heard him make groining noises and cries of pain. They opened the bathroom door, confirmed he was crying in distress and quickly closed the door, treating the incident as an improper disruption by a passenger, according to the complaint.
     As the plane was about to land, the Ilczyszyns say, crew members told the pilot there was a man not coming out of the bathroom. On the ground, the crew had Orange County Sheriff’s officers board the plane and falsely informed them a man had barricaded himself inside the bathroom, the family says.
     After the plane had been evacuated, the bathroom door was opened and Ilczyszyn fell to the floor unconscious. He was taken to the hospital where he died.
     Southwest Airlines said in a statement: “According to our crew reports, it appears to have been an unfortunate medical event that we believe our flight attendants handled appropriately and professionally.
     Reports indicate that our crew tried to reach the customer in an effort to provide assistance and our pilot arranged for first responders to meet the flight upon arrival in Orange County. To respect the privacy of Mr. Ilczyszyn’s loved ones, we will not share specific details surrounding events that day. We were saddened to learn of Mr. Ilczyszyn’s passing last fall, and our Southwest family continues to keep his family in our thoughts.”
     The family is represented by Greene, Broillet & Wheeler, whose attorneys could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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