Los Angeles teachers are suing Delta after a plane dumped jet fuel on them, allegedly leaving them dizzy and nauseous

Delta Airlines jet empties its fuel tanks as it makes emergency landing at LAX

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Delta Airlines jet empties its fuel tanks as it makes emergency landing at LAX
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Reuters
  • Four teachers at an elementary school in California are suing Delta after one of its planes jettisoned jet fuel that landed on a neighborhood, during an emergency landing.
  • While the practice isn’t uncommon, questions remain over why the pilots decided to drop the fuel at an altitude not high enough for it to vaporize before reaching the ground.
  • The four teachers allege they experienced a “lasting and severe irritation” as a result of the Tuesday incident.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Four teachers in Los Angeles, California, filed a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines on Friday, saying they felt “sick, dizzy, and nauseated” after they were drenched by jet fuel released by an Boeing 777 aircraft that made an emergency landing at nearby Los Angeles International Airport.

“Fuel penetrated their mouths and noses as well producing a lasting and severe irritation and a lasting and noxious taste and smell,” the lawsuit said, according to a Friday report from USA Today.

In the lawsuit, the four elementary school teachers, who work at Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy, California, said they “could feel the fuel on their clothes, flesh, eyes and skin” following the jet fuel jettison, which occurred January 14.

The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the decision to drop the fuel from mid-air. An expert said on CNN Thursday a communication error with Air Traffic Control may be to blame for the incident, as a transcript revealed the pilot told air-traffic controllers he did not plan to release the fuel.

The flight, Delta Air Lines flight 89, was slated to travel from LAX to Shanghai, China, when it began to face unspecified engine troubles, according to the previous Insider report.

Some 60 adults and children were treated by firefighters at the scene, but none affected were sent to the hospital, USA Today reported. Most of the reported injuries involved complaints of skin irritation. The individuals treated came from five elementary and one high school in Cudahy, South Gate, and Los Angeles.

At a press conference on Friday, one of the teachers said that she later sought medical attention for recurring symptoms following the Tuesday incident.

The lawsuit alleges negligence by Delta and does not specify the damages sought by the four teachers, USA Today reported. About 30 children at Park Avenue Elementary were reportedly playing outside when the Tuesday incident occurred. The lawsuit alleges the teachers had to tend to the injuries of their students before they could attend to their own needs.

While previous reports cited individuals affected at multiple area schools, all four of the teachers named in the suit work at Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy. About half of all injuries reported with Flight 98’s fuel drop occurred at Park Avenue Elementary, USA Today said.

The FAA said while fuel dumps of this nature are not uncommon in cases when a mechanical failure or medical issue occurs during a flight, they typically happen at altitudes so the fuel will atomize before reaching the ground.

It also was not clear how much of the 24 minutes flight 89 was in the air was spent shedding the jet fuel, though the process can reportedly be lengthy. Fuel is typically jettisoned during emergency landings in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft in order avoid potential damage to the aircraft or the runway, per a previous Insider report.

Delta reportedly sent cleaning crews to the schools that were impacted by the fuel drop, though it has not commented on Friday’s lawsuit.

A Delta spokesperson declined Business Insider’s request for comment on the lawsuit.