Within just a few hours of the journey, a flight from Chicago to London made an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Canada, after the plane’s windshield shattered. United blamed it on a bird strike; however, according to the suit, the passenger filing the lawsuit alleges that the pilots told him there’s “nothing alive at 40,000 feet.”
Passengers on Flight 931 were required to stay on the aircraft — for a total of eight hours — until a replacement plane arrived to take them to their final destination.
Theodore Liaw, a passenger on the flight, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday and claims “United has been lying to everyone about what happened.”
The lawsuit states that the flight’s co-pilot heroically acted as the last layer of protection when the windshield broke before the emergency landing. It also states that a United mechanic may have overtorqued the bolts of the cockpit window.
The plane, a Boeing 767-300, is equipped with three layers of reinforced glass. “Courageously, Flight 931’s co-pilot quickly pushed his weight against what was left of the third and last layer of the cockpit window, which may have prevented the entire window from breaking during the descent to Goose Bay. Had that last layer disappeared, both pilots would have likely been sucked out of the plane and Flight 931’s passengers would have been doomed,” the lawsuit read.
The lawsuit also alleges that passengers and crew were fortunate that the incident didn’t occur while the flight was over the Atlantic Ocean, since they would have had to make a likely fatal emergency water landing. The pilots allegedly explained to Liaw that “everyone on board would have either died from the impact or would have quickly frozen to death in the cold ocean.”
All passengers on board were allegedly given a $500 voucher from United in exchange for a release of all liability. Liaw did not accept. Instead, Liaw, a CEO who has flown over a million miles with United, is hoping to be compensated for bodily injury and severe emotional distress because he now has a fear of flying, which could jeopardize his career.
United released the following statement, “At United, safety is our top priority and we diverted the aircraft due to an issue with the cockpit window. The aircraft landed safely, and we are continuing to investigate this matter. Due to the pending litigation, we’re unable to comment further.”
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