Southwest Airlines is facing a lawsuit after a woman in a wheelchair alleged employees refused to help her use the restroom, causing her to wet herself and suffer severe emotional and physical distress; she was flying from Portland International Airport to St. Louis, Missouri when the incident occurred.
Katherine E. Muenchow, 56, recently flew from Portland, Oregon, to St. Louis, Missouri, with Southwest Airlines—and is suing the company as a result. Muenchow uses a wheelchair and encountered nothing but problems with the flight, to the point where she was forced to wet her pants because the crew would not help her.
The problem started when she arrived at the airport and ordered a wheelchair, but the airport told her she needed to use her own. Then, as an attendant was wheeling her to the gate, she asked to stop and get some food—but the attendant refused, saying a Southwest attendant would take her. That person didn’t appear for an hour. Then Muenchow asked to be taken to a restroom. The attendant suggested the nearest women’s room, but it wasn’t able to fit the wheelchair, so Muenchow asked for a family restroom. The attendant said it was too far and she’d have to wait to use the restroom on the plane.
But the flight attendants on the plane wouldn’t help her either, first saying she couldn’t get up while the plane was boarding and next citing turbulence. Muenchow begged for assistance in tears. Eventually, she was forced to wet herself. She was finally taken to the restroom—too late—once the plane landed. But the door wouldn’t close all the way and she was forced to use the facilities in view of every passenger deplaning.
“Traveling is a time of great vulnerability for a disabled person who must rely on the assistance and accommodation of others,’’ the suit says, reported by Oregon Live. “The flight attendants’ conduct toward the plaintiff was outrageous and done with an intent to cause plaintiff severe emotional distress.’’
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