Southwest passenger sues airline for $10 million, claiming she was removed from a flight for taking her mask off to drink water

·2 min read
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 jet taxis to the gate
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 jet taxis to the gate.KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images
  • Southwest was sued by a woman who claims she was taken off flight for removing mask to drink water.

  • The woman alleged that an attendant told her "we don't care" about her medical-exemption card.

  • The passenger said she needed to drink for medical reasons but the attendant shouted at her.

A passenger sued Southwest Airlines on Tuesday for $10 million over claims that the carrier ordered her off the flight for removing her mask so she could drink water.

Medora Clai Reading, 68, said in a complaint, filed in New York Eastern District Court, that she was traveling on January 7 from Washington, D.C., to Palm Beach, Florida, on a Southwest Airlines flight when she was told by a flight attendant to keep her mask on despite her medical conditions.

Reading said in the complaint that she had difficulty breathing because of a heart condition, low blood sugar, and claustrophobia. She also said that drinking water helped with her medical issues.

According to the complaint, she informed a Southwest employee about her conditions when she bought the ticket and she was seated at the front of the plane.

Reading said she was talking to a Southwest employee before boarding when a gate supervisor joined the conversation to tell her that the airline "does not care" about her medical status, per the complaint.

On the plane, Reading asked for a bottle of water from a flight attendant, who asked her if she needed to take medication, she said in the complaint.

Reading said in the complaint that she showed the flight attendant her medical-exemption card but the flight attendant told her "we don't care," adding that she must keep her face covering on at all times.

Reading said that she started drinking the water that was given to her. The flight attendant later shouted at her, saying "You were talking!" when Reading was explaining that she needed to drink water, per the complaint.

A gate attendant eventually told her to get off the flight, Reading alleged in the complaint.

Reading also alleged in the complaint that she was told she was entitled to a full refund for the plane ticket, but she said she never received it. The complaint said that Reading has sued Southwest for $10 million.

Southwest didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of US operating hours.

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