United Passenger Claims Airline Covered Up 'Near-Death' Incident

By Bill Galluccio

January 23, 2019

Photo of a broken windshield on Flight 931 from Chicago to London

On October 27, 2018, United Flight 931 from Chicago to London was forced to make an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Canada after the windshield shattered in mid-air. To make matters worse, the passengers were forced to remain on the plane for eight hours until a replacement jet arrived. At the time, United said the incident was the result of a bird strike and offered passengers a $500 voucher if they agreed to waive the airline of liability over the emergency landing. 

One of the passengers who refused the settlement, Theodore Liaw, has filed a lawsuit against the airline and claims that they lied about what happened and covered up a "near-death" incident that was caused by a mechanic's mistake. 

“Nothing struck Flight 931 in the air. There was no bad weather. Under such ordinary flight conditions, cockpit windows for a Boeing 767-300 do not break of their own accord,” the suit stated.

According to the lawsuit, the pilots said that it was impossible for a bird to be flying at 40,000 feet, and suggested that the cockpit window broke because a "mechanic had over-torqued the bolts of the cockpit window." The lawsuit says that two of the three glass layers that make-up the sealed cockpit window had been compromised and warned that if the third had broken "both pilots would have likely been sucked out of the plane and Flight 931’s passengers would have been doomed."

Liaw said that he "suffered bodily injury and severe emotional distress." He claims that following the incident he developed a fear of flying and as a result "his entire career might be in jeopardy."

He asking for a trial by jury and wants to "receive fair compensation from United from his close brush with death due to United’s negligence."

Photo: Theodore Liaw

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