A Massachusetts federal judge nixed Boeing’s request for a retrial in a case involving a woman who won a $2.2 million verdict against the company, finding it was clear from expert testimony that the woman suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depressive disorder following a nail-biting flight in 2010.
Adriana Guzman, a resident of Costa Rica, had flown aboard a Boeing aircraft in 2010 from Miami to Boston along with about 155 other passengers and crew, when at 32,000 feet in the air, an explosion-like noise erupted from the plane. An 18-inch-by-7-inch hole had torn through the 757’s fuselage, causing rapid decompression and panic as the plane began falling. Guzman testified feeling wind coming into the plane and hearing passengers asking flight attendants if they were going to die. The pilots were forced to make an emergency landing.
Guzman and five other passengers filed lawsuits against Boeing in 2013, and all settled in 2016 except Guzman. A jury awarded Guzman $1.5 million, which was increased to $2.2 million with interest.
Boeing argued in its request for a new trial that Guzman already had PTSD and major depression before the flight, which was caused by unpaid student loans, adding that she had been sued by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for failing to pay students loans related to her Ph.D. Guzman argued that as a result of the decompression and trauma experienced during the flight she could not enjoy life and function as she had previously.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein pointed out that experts from both sides agreed that Guzman’s PTSD and depression were a result of the harrowing flight, and that the woman’s descriptions of what occurred helped explain her trauma.