A woman who was an airplane passenger earlier this summer is claiming she witnessed a ground crew worker be fatally "ingested" into one of the plane's engines — and now, she's suing for $1 million for "intentional infliction of emotional distress," among other damages, Insider reported , citing documents the outlet reviewed.
What are the details?
The outlet said the suit against Unifi Aviation was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and claims passenger Mackenzie Hill was returning to San Antonio from Los Angeles on June 23.
Hill was in California "for a church conference and graduation ceremony" after she completed a two-year program for "equipping women for ministry," Insider said, citing the suit.
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According to the lawsuit, Hill says she noticed the employee, identified as 27-year-old David Renner, who worked for Unifi and offered ground handling operations support for Delta Air Lines, "coming uncomfortably close" to the plane as it was taxiing to the gate around 10:25 p.m. While seated in window seat 11A near the "captain's side engine," the suit says Hill witnessed Renner getting sucked into the engine.
The airplane's crew instructed passengers to shut their windows and kept them seated for 15 minutes, per the suit. Hill offered to stay behind to give a statement but was told she didn't need to. The suit says flight staff were unaware that investigators were looking for witness statements.
The Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Renner's death a suicide.
Insider said Renner's estate is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit and that his family members didn't immediately respond to the outlet's request for comment.
Delta was not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit and declined to comment for Insider's story, the outlet noted. However, Insider said an airline representative directed the outlet to a June statement on the matter: "We are heartbroken and grieving the loss of an aviation family member's life in San Antonio. Our hearts and full support are with their family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time."
What else does the suit say?
Hill has since experienced "nightmares and flashbacks" and has PTSD, Insider said, citing the lawsuit, which adds that she wants damages for mental anguish, physical impairment, loss of wage-earning capacity, and other losses.
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The lawsuit also alleges that Unifi was aware of Renner's mental state and "could have prevented this incident from occurring," the outlet added.
According to the lawsuit, Renner reportedly posted "alarming" messages on social media regarding his mental health in the years leading up to his death. Social media posts included in the lawsuit were from 2018; Wood told Insider they did not find more recent messages.
The lawsuit also says Renner was arrested last year for criminal trespass on private property. The charge was filed, but prosecutors declined to pursue it.
Per the suit, Hill is alleging "various claims against Unifi and the former employee's estate, including claims for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act."
How is Unifi reacting?
Unifi denies "each and every allegation" listed in the lawsuit, Insider reported, citing court documents the outlet reviewed.
"Although Unifi Aviation does not typically comment on pending litigation, we believe the claims asserted by Ms. Hill do not have any merit and intend to zealously defend ourselves," a Unifi spokesperson told Insider. "We continue to keep David Renner's family and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers."
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