United Airlines, a historic leader in U.S. airline travel, was hit hard Monday in a class action lawsuit by passengers traumatized by an equipment failure just three weeks ago.
The suit describes the near-death experience on Feb. 20 felt by 231 passengers on a direct flight from Denver, Colorado’s capital to Honolulu, Hawaii as the right engine of the Boeing 777 aircraft suddenly exploded at 10,000 feet and rained heavy metal debris on a heavily-populated Denver suburb below.
Engine parts in the size of pick-up trucks landed in Broomfield, a suburb of 68,000 people, located 25 miles (40.2 km) north of Denver, but authorities reported no deaths or injuries.
The Monday filing alleged “negligent infliction of emotional distress,” and asserted that United Airlines “failed to properly inspect and maintain its aircraft that resulted in the engine failure,” local KDVR Denver news channel reported.
“These passengers are lucky to escape with their lives, as the flight managed to land with no serious physical injuries; however, it left these passengers in fear for their life for nearly 20 minutes,” the lawsuit stated.
“Nearly all of them experienced the emotional distress that would be a natural human emotional response to a near-death experience,” said Chad Schnell, from Indiana who filed the suit, expected to exceed 5 million U.S. dollars.
The failed engine resulted in “scattering pieces of the engine over Colorado and leaving passengers to a horrifying view of a fire on the wing,” the lawsuit noted. Enditem