27 May 2010

Michigan Woman Sues United Airlines after being Left Sleeping on Plane

The Detroit News
Prominent Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger said today it was "really a gross abuse of a passenger" for airlines to leave a sleeping Ferndale woman locked on a plane for several hours.

Fieger filed a lawsuit today against the airlines on behalf of Ferndale resident Ginger McGuire, who flew Monday on a trip for an accounting training session that began in Detroit and ended in Philadelphia. During her travels, she was shuttled to Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., before heading to Philadelphia, where she was left stranded on the airplane after landing.

McGuire said she was exhausted from traveling and fell asleep as soon as she took her seat on the Philadelphia-bound Trans States airplane -- Trans States works in conjunction with United Airlines. She was not taking medication and did not have any alcohol to drink. She was simply tired, he said.

McGuire woke up at 3:50 a.m. and found herself alone on the 50-seat plane.

"I just woke up and looked at my phone. It was 3 a.m.," McGuire said. "I said, 'Oh, my God, there's no one on the plane.' "

McGuire said she walked up and down the aisle for 15 minutes. She said she panicked and didn't think of calling for help.

"Then the door to the airplane opened and two Philadelphia police officers were standing there with a TSA officer," McGuire said. "They wouldn't let me off the plane until I proved who I was. It was like, 'Show us your ID, show us your ID.'"

Officials let her go after about 10 minutes. McGuire then checked into a local hotel.

Her four-count lawsuit filed by Fieger in Wayne Circuit Court alleges negligence, false imprisonment, emotional distress and breech of contract against the two airlines leaving her locked on an airplane for four hours after it landed.

"She has been contacted by Trans State, who wanted to talk about it," Fieger said. "They didn't make an offer to her. They never do. If they had, it would only be for a bag of peanuts."

According to Fieger, McGuire originally didn't report the incident. Fieger said apparently either someone at the airline or Philadelphia police leaked it to the media.

"I received a phone call from someone asking about what happened, and I gave a phone interview and then I got other phone calls from CNN, USA Today and other media," McGruire said. "I wasn't prepared for anything like this."

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