Flight attendants sue Boeing over 'toxic fumes' on Alaska Airlines jet

Four flight attendants say they have suffered long-term effects from 'toxic fumes'

Four flight attendants have filed a lawsuit against Boeing Co. because of "devastating health effects" from what they contend were toxic fumes that leaked into a 2013 flight.

Three of the four flight attendants said they lost consciousness during the Alaska Airlines flight July 12, 2013, from Boston to San Diego, and all three were rushed to a hospital after the plane made an emergency landing in Chicago. Boeing manufactured the airplane.

The suit, filed in U.S. Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., accuses Boeing of fraud, negligence and design defects in the Boeing 737-890. The flight attendants say nearly all Boeing jets pull in air through the engines to pressurize the cabin. The air in the cabin can become toxic if it is exposed to heated engine oil, the suit alleges.

A Boeing representative could not be reached for comment.

The flight attendants -- Vanessa Woods, Faye Oskardottir, Darlene Ramirez and Karen Neben -- say in the suit that they suffer long-term medical problems, including memory issues, tremors, blinding headaches, fatigue and gastrointestinal problems.

“By reason of Boeing’s design decisions, the environmental control system on the subject aircraft lacked filters which would have purified the cabin air and prevented the subject flight attendant crew from being exposed to toxic fumes,” the lawsuit said.

It does not list a dollar amount for damages but it says the flight attendants seek damages for long-term physical problems, mental anguish, emotional distress, medical bills and lost wages, among other costs.

Jeffrey Peterson, the president of the Assn. of Flight Attendants at Alaska Airlines, said other flight attendants have experienced contaminated air on planes.

“We support our fellow flight attendants in their efforts to seek justice after breathing in contaminated air on board the aircraft," he said. "In fact, AFA has been fighting for cleaner cabin air for decades while the industry has refused to acknowledge the problem."

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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