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Is Virgin America Responsible for This Passenger’s Death?

Relatives of Romulo C. Valdez have filed for damages in excess of $75,000 and are seeking to change the carrier’s policy on emergency medical landings.

The relatives of an elderly man who died while on a trans-continental flight have claimed that their loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of the cabin crew, The Washington Post reports. 93-year-old Romulo C. Valdez was traveling with his daughter, Nicette Balukjian, on a Boston-bound Virgin America flight from San Francisco in July when he passed away.

An official complaint, which has been filed this week by the family in California district court, indicates that Valdez came into medical distress about halfway through the five-hour journey. Valdez was fitted with a pacemaker and was diagnosed with an undisclosed medical condition that required the use of an oxygen tank.

At this point in the flight, Valdez reportedly told Balukjian that he needed to use the tank, but his daughter struggled to quickly connect the apparatus. While Balukjian did not explicitly request assistance, the outlet reports that crew offered minimal help and also did not attempt to find a doctor from among the plane’s passengers.

Balukjian was able to connect the tank after 15 minutes, but by this time, her father had stopped breathing. At this point, a member of the cabin crew called for medical assistance and offered to let her use the plane’s oxygen supplies. Valdez then received treatment via an automated external defibrillator, but remained unresponsive. Speaking in a phone interview, Balukjian described the situation as “awful,” adding, “I thought that we were going to land the plane, and it just never happened.”

When the plan landed, Balukjian was instructed to stay seated and says that she and her father were left in full view of disembarking passengers.

Balukjian is attempting to claim for damages of more than $75,000, but is also seeking to change Virgin America’s stance on emergency landings for elderly passengers who are receiving oxygen treatment and in medical distress.

In an official statement, the carrier said that, “Our hearts go out to the family for the loss of their loved one,” but that the crew “did what they could” to offer assistance to Balukjian.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
arcticflier January 12, 2018

Had a doctor assisted then he/she would likely he named in this lawsuit as well. The lawsuit is a result of misdirected grief and/or profit motivated. I agree with the other posters that the family member should have been better prepared; however, if the crew was witnessing a passenger "in distress" then it is their job to recognize such and ACT.

Artpen100 January 11, 2018

I don't see any negligence on the airline's part. Also, it takes a while to find an acceptable airport and land a plane for a medical emergency even if the pilot is aware of it. Sounds to me like this one will be dismissed. There is not a claim in all these facts.

edgewood49 January 11, 2018

Oh come on Headers like yours serve no real purpose other than get you hits and frankly irresponsible

farwest101 January 11, 2018

If I were on the flight, I'd countersue for emotional distress for a nitwit bringing a 93yr who was on death's door on to a commercial flight.

GrayAnderson January 11, 2018

I find it darkly farcical that someone is filing a lawsuit seeking to change the policies of an airline whose operating certificate is going away tomorrow (due to the merger). Clearly somebody's lawyer has never heard of the term "moot".