The family of a disabled man who died just over a month after a serious fall from his wheelchair at the hands of airport workers is suing Delta Air Lines and Los Angeles International Airport for “wrongful death,” according to the family’s lawyer.
On July 13, 2021, Ricardo Lopez Rangel was scheduled to fly from LAX to Honolulu, Hawaii, with his wife Elva Lopez Navarro and three children, but Ricardo never boarded the Delta plane that was supposed to take them on a dream vacation.
The case, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, claims that Delta employees told Ricardo that he would have to board the plane through a different door than the rest of the passengers and that none of his family members were able to accompany to assist him.
Workers from the airport and the airline built a steep ramp aboard the plane and then placed Ricardo in his wheelchair on it. The wheelchair slid backward and off the ramp, preventing him from boarding the plane.
Ricardo suffered “serious injuries,” including a head laceration, occipital hematoma, and a cracked skull when he fell to the ground. He began to have confused speech, and according to his medical records, his “mental status deteriorated within first two hours in (the) ED (Emergency Department)”.
Ricardo’s health was said to have deteriorated till his death on August 26, 2021.
Lawyers allege that the ramp was “unsafe” and “dangerous” and that the airport worker hired to get Ricardo on the aircraft “failed to reasonably and safely assist” him.
The steel ramp had been built at an “unreasonably high incline and in a manner that had a propensity to cause wheelchairs to fall backward” according to the lawsuit. The family claims they have suffered financial support as a result of Ricardo’s negligence death, and they have requested the court to compensate them for their loss of love and affection.
Delta Air Lines has been silent about the potential legal action.
An in-house advisory group “promotes accessibility for all of our customers by making recommendations to Delta pertaining to training, rules, procedures, and anything else that influences the travel experience of people with disabilities,” according to the airline.