‘It’s Pretty Easy to Check Those Things’: Teen Dies on Flight Because American Airlines’ Defibrillator Was Not Charged, Crew Fails to Resuscitate Him, Mom’s Lawsuit Alleges

A family is suing American Airlines after their teenage son died on a flight from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to Miami, Florida.

The young man’s family alleges he had a heart attack on the flight and the emergency medical equipment on the plane was not charged — resulting in his death.

American Airlines Sued Over Faulty Defibrillator
Melissa Arzu sued American Airlines because she claims the mandatory defibrillator on her son’s flight from Honduras back to the U.S. in June 2022. Photos: (Melissa Arzu/Facebook, Getty Images)

Attorney Thomas Giuffra, a partner at law firm Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin, has filed a federal civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against American Airlines for the death of Kevin Greenidge. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the teen’s mother, Melissa Arzu, and she alleges her son died because the airline was negligent.

“He lost his chance,” Giuffra said. “It’s outrageous. It’s pretty easy to check those things.”

Greenidge, 14, was a passenger on one of the airline’s flights when he went into cardiac arrest while in the air.

The teen had traveled to Central America with his uncle for a quick family vacation and was returning to the States on June 4, 2022, when he fell ill, according to FOX Business.

According to the complaint, there was a doctor on board who requested attendants retrieve the automatic external defibrillator on the plane. Once the device was brought to him, he noticed it had not been charged. 

The lawsuit goes on to claim the airline was responsible for ensuring “that the automatic external defibrillator and its mobile battery pack were fully and properly charged” and that because it wasn’t it “caused, permitted, and/or hastened the untimely death of” Arzu’s son, Business Insider reports.

The lawyer states in the complaint that Greenidge’s death was “caused wholly and solely by reason of the carelessness, recklessness, and negligence of the defendant AMERICAN, its respective agents, servants and/or employees in failing to maintain an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on board the subject flight” and “failing to ensure that the AED and its mobile battery pack were fully and properly charged.” 

It also alleges that the airline failed to train its workers “with basic resuscitation technique” and “causing, permitting and allowing the mobile battery pack to drain down to no power thereby causing the AED to stop working.” 

The mother is seeking unspecified damages and payment of the lawyers’ fees.

The lawsuit also outlines the multiple injuries Greenidge sustained before his premature death. Lawyers suggest in the filing that had he lived he would have also been entitled to actual and punitive damages.

By federal law, according to the Aviation Medical Assistance Act of 1998 (which is referenced in the lawsuit), all airlines are required to have “aboard each aircraft” a defibrillator. The law further mandates each device be inspected regularly” to “ensure its condition” in case of an emergency, like Greenidge’s case.

American Airlines has not yet responded to the lawsuit. However, in a statement to Insider, a spokesperson said the carrier was reviewing details of the claim.

“Our thoughts are with Mr. Greenidge and his loved ones,” the airline said.

Ironically, American Airlines was the first carrier to save a life by using a defibrillator during a flight on Feb. 18, 1998. One of the company’s corporate medical doctors, Dr. David McKenas, convinced the airline to keep defibrillators on board after the law passed.

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