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Family of 25-Year-Old Woman Sues American Airlines for Delaying Emergency Landing That May Have Saved Her

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Brittany Oswell, 25, was declared brain dead after going into cardiac arrest. (Image courtesy of Oswell family)

The family of a South Carolina woman who died on an American Airlines flight in 2016 is now suing the airline carrier, alleging wrongful death.

Brittany Oswell, 25, suffered a pulmonary embolism and went into cardiac arrest during an April 2016 flight from Hawaii to South Carolina, according to the suit. Oswell was declared brain dead three days after the flight and eventually taken off life support.

In their complaint, relatives claim medical equipment aboard the aircraft didn’t work and that pilots ignored repeated pleas from a doctor, who tried to treat the young woman, to make an emergency landing. Oswell’s husband, Cory, reportedly alerted flight staff about three hours into the flight after his wife became “dizzy and disoriented” before fainting.

“We absolutely felt like this was not taken very seriously,” Oswell’s mother, Tina Starks told ABC News. ” … She is no longer here to do anything with us, and it’s all because someone made a business decision to keep flying a plane when she needed emergency medical help that they could not provide because of inadequacies on board the flight.”

A doctor on board the flight was able to examine Oswell and initially believed the newlywed had simply suffered a panic attack. Her condition worsened hours later, however, after flight attendants found her passed out in the bathroom. The complaint states Orwell vomited and defecated on herself and that attendants and her husband tried to render medical aid.

The on-flight doctor was summoned yet again after he which he urged the crew to quickly divert the plane to the nearest hospital so Orwell could receive proper treatment. The pilots ignored the doctor’s request and went with the recommendation of another doctor on the ground to keep moving until the connecting flight in Dallas, which was another 90 minutes away.

Oswell was then moved to the galley where she was given oxygen. The suit states that the doctor tried to take her blood pressure but one of the cuffs was faulty and kept reading an “error” message and the other cuff wasn’t working at all. At some point, Orwell’s breathing and pulse stopped and the doctor and flight attendants tried to administer the defibrillator.  However, “no shock was administered,” even after three attempts, according to the lawsuit.

The doctor and the flight crew took turns administering CPR, but it was too late. Oswell was taken to Baylor Medical Center where she was declared brain dead. She never regained consciousness after her pulse stopped and was taken off life support on April 18, 2016, according to ABC News.

“When Brittany got on the plane, she stepped into her coffin,” Brad Cranshaw, an attorney representing Oswell’s husband and parents, told The State newspaper. “It’s a tragedy.”

American Airlines hasn’t responded to the 12-page lawsuit, which was filed on the anniversary of the young woman’s death, but issued this statement:

“We take the safety of our passengers very seriously, and we are looking into the details of the complaint.”

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