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Latest suit seeks $1 billion

by Staff

Two months after a door plug tore open the side of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 moments after it departed Portland International Airport, attorneys representing 64 passengers have filed suit against the airline and Boeing, the plane’s manufacturer.

The third and latest suit was filed Feb. 20 in Multnomah County Circuit Court and is the first to seek a specified dollar amount: $1 billion in personal as well as punitive damages.

Two other suits were filed in January in Washington but have not sought specific amounts of compensation. Those suits represent a total of 61 passengers plus one family member for loss of consortium.

The latest lawsuit was filed by three Oregon residents – Kevin Kwok, Kyle Rinker and Amanda Strickland – who were among the 171 passengers and six crew onboard the Jan. 5 flight bound for Ontario, California. Six minutes into the flight, a 2-by-4 foot door plug blew off the plane in the 26th row, sucking seat parts, the shirt that a 15-year-old boy had been wearing, electronic devices such as phones and other personal items out of the plane.

Kwok was seated near the front of the plane “but immediately became aware of the danger when the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling,” according to the suit. Rinker and Strickland were seated diagonally behind and across the row from the missing door plug.

“Screams of panic and horror filled the plane,” reads the lawsuit. “Mr. Kwok, Mr. Rinker, and Ms. Strickland prepared for the impending crash and certain death.”

The pilot, however, was able to turn back to Portland and make an emergency landing with, according to the airline, no serious injuries. But the suit states that the three plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit were so traumatized that they couldn’t continue on another flight to southern California.

All three lawsuits fault Alaska Airlines and Boeing – saying they should have known there were problems with this particular type of aircraft, a Boeing 737 Max 9, and that Boeing has a troubled history with similar planes. That includes the 737 Max 8s that crashed in 2018 and 2019 in Ethiopia and Indonesia, killing all 346 onboard the two planes combined.

Alaska Airlines declined Monday to comment on the litigation because the lawsuits are still pending. Boeing representatives didn’t respond Monday to a request for comment but have declined to comment on the litigation in the past.

Atlanta attorney Jonathan W. Johnson and Oregon attorney Justin Idiart filed the suit representing the three passengers. Tacoma attorney Mark Lindquist is representing 26 passengers in a suit he filed in January in King County Superior Court. The Stritmatter Firm in Seattle is representing 35 passengers plus one family member in federal court in Washington. That suit plans to formally seek class-action status.

Lawyers in all three of the lawsuits say they expect the number of plaintiffs they represent to grow.

– Aimee Green covers breaking news and the justice system. Reach her at 503-294-5119, [email protected] or @o_aimee.

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