Family Brings Wrongful Death Suit Against American Airlines, but not as a result of Plane Crash

The wife and daughter of the late Othon Cortes, of Miami, are bringing suit against American Airlines as the result of Cortes’ death. However, the cause of his death was not the result of a plane crash, as one may expect. According to Mr. Cortes’ family, he died as a result of ingesting contaminated food that he was served in an on board meal. According to the wrongful death suit filed by Cortes’ wife, Raquel, in the U.S. District Court in Miami, FL, Cortes died after being served an on board meal that contained contaminated chicken.

The incident that lead to Cortes’ death occurred on May 18, as the 73 year old Cortes was traveling with his wife from Barcelona, Spain to New York. During the flight, Cortes consumed an inflight meal that contained chicken. CNN reports that according to the suit, after the plane landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Cortes and his wife waited for their nest flight to Miami, Cortes began to experience “discomfort and pain that included sharp stomach cramps and sudden thirst and other clear outward manifestation of severe physical illness.” During the flight to Miami, Cortes began to experience further symptoms, like nausea and shortness of breath. Subsequently, Cortes underwent a cardiac episode and became unresponsive. As a result, the plane he was aboard made an emergency landing in Norfolk, VA. Cortes was pronounced dead when the plane landed.

American Airlines is not the only party that the Cortes family alleges is responsible for the death of Othon Cortes. According to, Cortes’ wife and daughter have also named Sky Chefs, an airline catering company, as a defendant in their suit. In their suit, the Cortes family is seeking one million dollars in damages as a result of Cortes’ death, which the suit alleges was caused by contaminated food that American Airlines and Sky Chefs served aboard the international flight. As reported by CNN, the suit charges the companies with “failing to properly maintain or prepare the food” and alleges the companies allowed the food to become contaminated with Clostridium perfringens bacteria. According to the FDA, perfringens poising is one of the most commonly reported foodborne illnesses in the U.S. Although it is very rarely fatal, a few deaths have been reported as a result of dehydration and other complications.

According to and USA Today Travel, in addition to alleging that the two defendants were negligent in failing to properly maintain of prepare the food served aboard the flight, the Cortes’ family lawsuit also charges the Airline with negligence for allowing Cortes to board the domestic flight, failing to give Cortes medical attention before boarding the second flight, and waiting too long to (opt for) an emergency landing.. Although American Airlines has yet to comment on this particular legal action, their co-defendant Sky Chefs has made a statement through its spokesperson, Josefine Corsten.

On behalf of Sky Chefs, Corsten denied any liability on the part of Sky Chefs. Corsten told CNN: “Based upon the allegations in the complaint it is not possible that Sky Chefs is the responsible party because we did not cater the Barcelona flight in question.”

As a Georgia wrongful death attorney, it is my sincere desire, if these defendants are indeed liable, that they are held accountable, and are ordered to fully compensate this family for their loss.

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