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Man Sues Delta Air Lines After Being Doused in Jet Fuel

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A man is suing Delta Air Lines, alleging that he was showered in jet fuel that was poured out of a Delta plane as it flew low over a popular area of Los Angeles in January 2020, causing him severe and permanent damage.

On January 14, 2020, Delta aircraft DL89 had just taken off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) destined for Shanghai when the pilots realized one of the engines had failed and opted to return to LAX.

The pilots had to dump most of the jet fuel to make a safe return to LAX because the Boeing 777 was laden with fuel for the intended 14-hour voyage to China.

Rather than dropping the gasoline over the sea or in an unpopulated location, 15,000 gallons of jet fuel were dropped at an altitude of just 2,000 feet over densely populated areas.

After coming into touch with fuel, at least 56 persons on the ground, including children and instructors from various schools in the neighborhood, suffered skin and lung irritation.

“Jet fuel can cause skin irritation and/or upper respiratory irritation such as cough,” according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at the time.

Although public health officials predicted that these symptoms would “improve on their own” without medical intervention, Gerald Castaneda of Pico Rivera, California, claims that he suffered “severe and lasting personal injuries” that have already necessitated medical attention and may necessitate future doctor visits.

Castaneda alleges that his injuries have kept him from working, causing him to lose money.

The case, filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, argues Delta and the pilots were “careless, reckless, and negligent” when they started the fuel drop because they should have known there was a “high risk of harm to those on the ground.”

Delta is already facing a slew of additional claims, as well as an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into the January 2020 incident. Castaneda is claiming damages for general damages, medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.

A representative from Delta has been contacted for comment. At the time, an Atlanta-based airline representative claimed the fuel release was “part of standard process to obtain a safe landing weight.”

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