Alaska Airlines to Pay $3M Following Deadly Escalator Accident

Last month a jury returned a verdict against Alaska Airlines awarding more than $3 million to a family whose 75-year-old mother, Bernice Kekona, was killed in a tragic escalator accident after Alaska Airlines failed to provide passenger escort services during an airport layover.

Kekona had previously reserved a gate-to-gate escort service that the airline routinely provided for its passengers. Instead of meeting Kekona at her arrival gate to escort her to the connecting flight, the airline never showed up. As airport video surveillance reveals, Kekona attempted to make her connecting flight on her own after realizing the airline had failed to meet her per her request and in order to make her connecting flight home. As time went on, video footage shows Kekona becoming increasingly confused as the attempted to navigate the busy airport on her own while operating her electric wheelchair. Kekona ultimately arrived to and entered a descending escalator believing it to be an elevator. Video surveillance captured the horrifying moment when Kekona’s electric wheelchair tipped forward causing Kekona to fall face-first down the metal steps of the airport escalator whilst strapped into her wheelchair.

Instead of accepting responsibility for their failure to meet Kekona and escort her to her connecting flight as the passenger had reserved, and done so on countless flights in the past, the airline focused its entire defense on blaming the passenger – claiming that Kekona’s family should not have allowed her to travel alone in the first place. The family’s attorney explained the Air Carrier Access Act allows for just that. After evidence was present at trial, a jury returned a verdict finding the airline 90% at fault for Kekona’s injuries and resulting death. None of the jurors allocated fault to Kekona’s surviving family. In a statement, Alaska Airlines responded to the verdict announcement by saying, “We’re disappointed in the ruling and are evaluating next steps. There is no more important responsibility than the safety and wellbeing of our guests, whether they’re in our care or the care of a vendor.”

Injuries sustained by airline passengers, whether it be on a plane or airport, are often regulated by federal laws and company policies that are supposed to be strictly enforced to ensure the safety of flight passengers and crewmembers.

If you or a loved one has been injured, killed, or impacted due to an accident on a plane or at an airport, call Abraham Watkins today. It is imperative that you find a law firm to manage your claim as soon as possible following an incident of this nature. Further, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that companies are held fully accountable. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is the oldest personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884 for your free consultation.