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American Airlines Attendant Punched Passenger, Suit Says

Jan. 14, 2019, 5:15 PM

An American Airlines flight attendant aboard a flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Philadelphia punched a passenger without provocation, a new lawsuit alleges.

The Jan. 11 complaint, filed by Gregory Lagana in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, is the latest in a trend of cases alleging in-flight assaults on major airlines.

Recent lawsuits have alleged assaults by fellow passengers, such as two suits against United Airlines last year alleging it didn’t do enough to protect two women from sexual assaults by drunken male passengers.

Here, however, Lagana says it was a flight attendant who pinned his right arm down while “repeatedly punching plaintiff in the face and back of the head.”

The New Jersey man and his family were on a connecting flight on the last leg of a trip they took to Europe and Aruba last year, the complaint states.

Lagana says the assault by flight attendant Lance Wiley occurred while Lagana was seated on American Airlines Flight 1798 with his seat belt on.

The complaint doesn’t specify the circumstances of the incident other than that the “sequence of events was external to the plaintiff” and that he “was not involved in any wrongdoing that jeopardized the safety of the aircraft.”

The blows left Lagana with a traumatic brain injury, severe headaches, and other impairments that required “neurosurgical treatment,” according to the complaint.

The complaint seeks damages under the Montreal Convention, an international treaty that governs personal injury claims on international commercial flights.

“We are reviewing the complaint and the details of the flight,” American Airlines spokesperson Matt Miller told Bloomberg Law Jan. 14.

Brach Eichler LLC represented Lagana.

The case is Lagana v. Amer. Airlines Grp., Inc., D.N.J., No. 19-cv-00435, 1/11/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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