Southwest Airlines sued over death of financial trader

A lawsuit says Southwest Airlines treated a dying man on a flight as if he were causing a disturbance

The widow of a financial trader is suing Southwest Airlines, claiming the crew on her huband's flight last year didn't offer adequate medical attention when he collapsed in a lavatory.

Kelly Ilczyszyn filed a wrongful death suit in Alameda County Superior Court, saying the Dallas-based airline treated her dying husband, Richard Ilczyszyn, as if he were causing a disturbance when he was found moaning and crying in the bathroom of a Sept. 19 flight last year.



An earlier version of this story said Richard Ilczysyzyn collapsed on a Sept. 16 Southwest Airlines flight. The flight was Sept. 19.


In a statement, Southwest Airlines said it responded "appropriately and professionally" to the "unfortunate medical event." The airline said the crew on the plane "attempted to reach the customer in an effort to provide assistance." 

Richard Ilczyszyn, 46, a financial trader and contributor to CNBC's "Futures Now" show, died 17 hours after being taken off of the flight from Oakland International Airport to John Wayne Airport in Orange County. He died of a pulmonary embolism.

The suit asks for financial damages suffered by Kelly and her three children but does not list a specific dollar amount.

The suit said Richard Ilczyszyn collapsed in the bathroom about 10 minutes before the plane was scheduled to land in Orange County. Members of the flight crew opened the door to find Ilczyszyn "in distress while crying and moaning" and proceeded to treat the incident "as involving an improper disruption by a passenger" instead of a medical emergency, the suit says.

The plane continued to John Wayne Airport, where other passengers were removed before sheriff's deputies were called by the flight crew to deal with a passenger that had "barricaded himself in the bathroom," according to the suit.

The lawsuit suggests that Richard Ilczyszyn could have survived had the Southwest crew provided immediate medical attention.

Kelly Ilczyszyn worked as a Southwest Airlines flight attendant for 16 years. "I feel let down by my work family," she said. "They dropped the ball."

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