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Alaska Airlines faces lawsuit after woman falls down escalator

Whether in California or another state, airports are sometimes the scene of personal injuries. Recently, at an airport in Portland, Oregon, a 75-year-old woman fell down an escalator and died three months later from her injuries; the family is now suing Alaska Airlines and a particular contractor for failure to provide a promised service to the victim.

It turns out that the family in Alaska had requested a wheelchair service for their elderly relative so that it could escort her to a connecting flight. She was on her way back home from a family vacation in Maui. There is evidence that Huntleigh USA, the company contracted for the service, assisted the woman off the airplane and into a wheelchair; however, she was left alone in this condition.

Video surveillance shows her wandering the terminal alone. It also captured the incident when, in her confused state, she apparently mistook the escalator for an elevator and fell headfirst. After the incident, she was reported to be in constant pain; among her many injuries, a wound on her right foot became infected. The day after her leg was amputated below the knee, she died.

Alaska Airlines released a statement saying that the victim refused the wheelchair assistance. It also noted that she was not suffering any cognitive, visual or auditory impairments. Currently, the wrongful death suit has not specified monetary damages.

Because a wrongful death suit is such a serious claim, the lawyer on the case will likely be very thorough in determining whether there was any negligence on the victim's part. Much depends on whether the woman really did refuse assistance, in which case the confusion that the cameras recorded may have been due to some other cause for which the airlines cannot be blamed. The lawyer may bring in investigators and other experts to determine the truth.

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