Alaska Airlines Passengers Suing for $1 Billion

Three of the passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 are suing both the airline and Boeing for $1 billion, according to a complaint obtained by CBS News.

The lawsuit, filed by passengers Kyle Rinker, Amanda Strickland and Kevin Kwok, claims that negligence caused the Jan. 5 incident in which a plug door on the aircraft blew out mid-flight, forcing a terrifying emergency landing.

According to the complaint, all three passengers allegedly “suffered severe mental, emotional, and psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress, and physical injuries,” which were a “direct result of the frightful, death-threatening failure of the Boeing aircraft.”

The lawsuit also cited one specific physical injury, alleging that the sudden pressure change inside the cabin “caused some passengers’ ears to bleed,” per CBS.

In a press release, Jonathan W. Johnson, LLC — the Atlanta-based aviation law firm that filed the complaint on behalf of the passengers — wrote that “it seeks to hold Boeing accountable for its negligence which had caused extreme panic, fear, and post-traumatic stress.”

The jet passengers boarded for Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 after its emergency landing.

 Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty

The lawsuit also “seeks substantial punitive damages from Boeing for what was a preventable incident and because the defects in manufacturing impacted numerous other aircraft and threatened the lives of the passengers on all Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft,” the release said, noting that all 737 Max 9 jets were grounded by the FAA following the flight.

Alaska Airlines’ fleet of the 737-9s returned to the air in late January after they were inspected for safety and the FAA cleared them for service.

Boeing told PEOPLE, “We don’t have anything to add” about the litigation. Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane.

Stephen Brashear/Getty

All 177 passengers aboard Flight 1282 — which traveled from Portland, Oregon to Ontario, California — survived its emergency landing, which occurred after a plug door blew out at 16,000 feet and left a gaping hole in the side of the aircraft.

All 171 passengers and six crew members made it back to the airport safely, though some passengers “experienced injuries that required medical attention,” according to a news release from Alaska Airlines at the time.

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About a week after the emergency landing, Alaska Airlines offered compensation to the passengers. In a statement issued to PEOPLE, the airline said it provided a full refund to each guest.

NTSB via Getty 

“As an immediate gesture of care, within the first 24 hours, we also provided a $1,500 cash payment to cover any incidental expenses to ensure their immediate needs were taken care of,” the statement said.

The airline also said it offered “24/7 access to mental health resources and counseling sessions” and would “continue to work with them to address their specific needs and concerns.”

One of the survivors documented the harrowing experience on Tiktok.

A passenger named Courtney, who goes by @imsocorny.on the app, recalled the moment she heard a section of the plane’s fuselage get ripped off shortly after takeoff and the horrifying minutes that followed in a video shared on the platform.

“We all heard a really loud bang, a jolt, and a woosh of air came back at us really quickly,” she says in the video. “Immediately, the next moment, the oxygen masks came down from the overhead compartment.” Everyone quickly put on their masks without an announcement even needing to be made, she says.

Since she was sitting toward the front of the plane, she adds that she had no idea what had happened. The oxygen masks blocked the view through the cabin, but she knew something was definitely wrong. 

“I truly thought it was the engine – I thought an engine had blown out or a wing had gone down. That’s how loud and jolting that second was. I thought we were going to nose dive at any second. For a full 15 to 20 minutes that felt like a lifetime, I thought every second that went on, we were gonna start nose diving.”

Shortly after the incident, a Portland resident Sean Bates went viral after sharing photos of an iPhone he believes came from the Alaska Airlines flight in a post on X

He said the phone was “still in airplane mode with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282″ when he found it.

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