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Woman’s Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Airport Fall

A person’s unexpected death can happen in a number of ways, from car accidents to falls to crime to dangerous products. In some cases, these wrongful deaths are caused by the actions or negligence of other parties.

The family of a woman who fell down an escalator at a Portland airport is suing Alaska Airlines and another company for its negligence. The 75-year-old wheelchair-bound woman from Washington fell down an escalator at Portland International Airport in June 2017. The woman died four months after her fall. In December 2017, her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in King County Superior Court against Alaska Airlines, alleging neglect at the airport.

The woman was traveling from Hawaii to Spokane when her flight stopped at the Portland airport to transfer to a different plane. Her family had requested gate-to-gate service for her, since she required wheelchair assistance due to an amputated leg and other health issues. But with nobody there to assist her, she tried on her own to get to her connecting flight. In the process, she fell down an escalator. As a result, she suffered life-threatening injuries that led to her death.

Besides Portland International Airport, the family is also suing Huntleigh USA, which contracts with Alaska Airlines to assist passengers. The lawsuit states that Huntleigh USA gate agents met the woman as she departed her plane in Portland. They gave her a motorized scooter to ride in, but she was then left alone at the top of the skybridge. She became confused, causing her to fall down the escalator. The fall was captured on surveillance video.

The woman was assisted by emergency workers and taken to a Portland hospital. In September, she was hospitalized for a leg wound caused by the Portland airport fall. She died two weeks later.

Under federal law, airlines are required to assist disabled passengers. Alaska Airlines investigated the incident and confirmed that the woman did receive initial assistance from Huntleigh. She was given a motorized scooter. However, she did not receive additional assistance because she declined it and decided to proceed to the connecting flight on her own. She was left in the concourse to navigate the airport on her own.

While Alaska Airlines released a statement claiming that it is heartbroken by the accident, the airline is refusing to take responsibility for the woman’s death. In fact, it filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but a U.S. District judge ruled against the motion on March 14.

Contact a Portland Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one is a devastating situation to overcome, especially when the situation could have been avoided. Holding the liable party accountable and obtaining compensation for damages can be a challenging process.

If your loved one was killed by someone else’s negligence, contact the aggressive lawyers at Johnston Law Firm. We are dedicated to helping you during your time of need so you don’t have to focus on financial concerns. Schedule your free consultation by calling (503) 546-3167.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.