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AA Blamed For Losing Alzheimer’s Patient

AA Blamed For Losing Alzheimer’s Patient
Jeff Edwards

The family of Alzheimer’s sufferer who was discovered on the streets of Brooklyn is taking American Airlines to court.

A family is accusing American Airlines of losing something much more precious than luggage. According to details of a planned lawsuit, the U.S. legacy carrier stands accused of losing a 52-year-old man suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.   

Keraphline Dupuy says that when her father Josaphat Dupuy was diagnosed with the diseases, she reluctantly decided to allow him to return to his native Haiti, where extended family could help look after him. However, Keraphline claims that relying on American to get Josaphat to Haiti from New York resulted in her ill father becoming a missing person and prompted a harrowing race to locate him on the New York streets before he fell victim to frigid winter weather.

“First thing we did was tell the attendant that my father has Alzheimer’s and dementia and he cannot be by himself,” Dupuy told the Daily News. “We put him in a wheelchair with the attendant, watching him get to the gate. And that was the last time we saw my dad.”

Police say surveillance footage revealed that Josaphat never made it through the security checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Authorities discovered his luggage and passport abandoned on a Brooklyn street the day after his disappearance.

Three days after Josaphat vanished, a Gerritsen Beach resident discovered him roaming the streets soaking wet and used the information in his wallet to contact Keraphline. The ailing man was hospitalized in intensive care for nearly two weeks following his ordeal.

Keraphline alleges American did not apologize and never offered any explanation for losing her father. Instead, she says, the airline simply credited the family $304.60 for his unused ticket.

“This is a textbook case of negligence,” said the family’s attorney, Peter Withey. “We are looking for them to at least acknowledge this even happened.”

In an email statement to FlyerTalk, an American representative said:

We cannot comment on the specifics of this case since there is pending litigation, however we take these matters very seriously. It is important to note that American is committed to providing a safe, pleasant travel experience for all of our customers. To this end, our employees are trained to assist customers through every stage of their flying experience.  We also encourage our customers to let us know how we can make their travels smoother by speaking with us at reservations, in the airport and during their flight.

[Photo: Daily News]

View Comments (9)

9 Comments

  1. annehamnitz

    August 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Would never, ever put a person with Alzheimers on an airplane without a familiar and trusted person at his or her side .
    Nasty things can happen when a person with dementia is stressed and you need to have someone understands and knows what to do.

    Did this family just hand him over to the airline?

  2. chx1975

    August 25, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    They should’ve negotiated for and bought unaccompanied minor service. I do not think just saying “he can’t be left alone” creates a liability for the airline. They will settle out of court for some money of course, it’s not worth fighting this case although AA would win.

  3. blackcrimesmatter

    August 25, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    If he shouldn’t fly alone, why didn’t someone go with him?
    He had to ride in a wheelchair, but he was walking around, wandering in Brooklyn?
    The judge should throw this case out.

  4. Icecat

    August 25, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    The family attorney is right,this is a textbook case of negligence, but not on the airline, but rather the family. Who lets a person suffering from alzheimer’s travel without a family escort?

  5. diver858

    August 25, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    REALLY? So airlines are now responsible for individuals with disabilities?

    Who was the “attendant” that the family turned their loved one over to – a contract porter, with no authority? If they would have at least walked him to the counter, checked him in, they would learned that someone would have to accompany him to his destination.

    Before making the reluctant decision, perhaps a call to AA, or browsing of the website would have convinced Keraphline Dupuy otherwise:
    http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/specialAssistance/main.jsp?anchorEvent=false&from=Nav#cognitiveanddevelopmental “…Customers who require personal or continuous attending care or who are unable to follow safety instructions must have a safety assistant traveling with them…”

    “…Special assistance coordinators are available through Reservations to help you secure special assistance during your travel. If you requested special assistance during booking, they’ll contact you before your departure flight to ensure necessary medical paperwork requirements or requests are arranged.

    Contact Reservations if:
    You’d like assistance from our special assistance coordinators
    You need to make additional arrangements that aren’t available online..”

    Keraphline Dupuy should be referred to the DAs office for elder abuse, loss of any custodial rights.

    Slow news day, Jeff? Is this is the best you could find, or did someone from Southwest marketing send you a link to this article?

  6. SeatOfMyPants

    August 25, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    She sent her severely disabled father off with someone that is barely qualified to do more than push a chair around?! Why did she expect him to babysit her father. That is not his job nor is it the job of the FAs. Why would she send him off like that? Was she hoping he’d get lost?

  7. justhere

    August 25, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    I’m not familiar with LGA but I’m guessing it isn’t AA employees that push the wheelchairs. Also, if he never made it through security how did the daughter watch her father get to the gate? I wonder if the daughter even asked to accompany her father to the gate with a gate pass? I’m not blaming the daughter but from the story it seems that she seems to think that a wheelchair attendant is a solid replacement for a caregiver.

  8. drvannostren

    August 26, 2015 at 6:44 am

    First off, I’m glad I’m not the only one who think a LOT of onus needs to be placed on the family here. Having dealt a bit with dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s very stressful for everyone involved, often does need constant attention. But that attention should come from a face the person recognizes, not a RANDOM check-in agent, then wheelchair walker, then flight attendant, then arrivals agent etc etc.

    She said he needed constant care, do they realize a flight attendant can’t spend the entire flight with him? Same with minors, it’s not like the FA holds their hand the whole flight, they simply keep an eye out and make sure the kid is comfortable since they can’t go anywhere.

    She also said “watching him get to the gate” which is obviously false/wrong since they also said he didn’t make it to the security check-point.

    Lastly, what was the master plan on the arrival? Was the flight attendant to walk him through customs/baggage claim then look for his family?

    I really don’t want to rag on the family too much but come on, you can’t take 1 day off work and escort him on a flight? At the VERY least, they could’ve made sure he got through security, if they weren’t going to get a gate pass to ensure he got on the flight.

    So many things went wrong here and I hesitate to blame the AA staff, if any employee were really responsible for this it’d probably be an LGA staff member. This is another case of something goes wrong and the customer immediately cries foul to the media when it could’ve been easily prevented with more appropriate actions on their part.

  9. jamesteroh

    August 26, 2015 at 7:44 am

    A few things don’t make sense in this story. The family claims they saw him get to the gate (how can they see him get to the gate unless they are post security) yet the video isn’t showing him going through security. His luggage was found on the streets, how was his luggage on NYC streets if the family checked him in and saw him get to the gate? A GA would have had to have taken the bags and checked them and if they were pulled due to him not being on board with the luggage matching he would have had to have had ID to have retrieved them.

    The family is to blame for letting him fly solo. LGA has no international flights so he had to connect. How did the family expect him to be able to handle connecting if he was in that condition?

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