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Long Island Family Suing American Airlines Over Peanuts

aa1.jpgA Long Island mother claims American Airlines put her son in danger on a cross-country trip. That’s because the 4-year-old boy is allergic to something passengers receive on almost every flight.

Ryahn Khan has a life-threatening allergy to nuts. His mom is an ophthalmologist, his dad a surgeon. They always travel with emergency medication should Ryahn go into Anaphylactic Shock: suffocation triggered by airborne peanut or tree nut dust.

And that is why they claim they made it clear to American Airlines, when making their reservations that their son and peanuts shouldn’t mix.

“I was told at the gate prior to boarding that there would be no nuts served on the plane by a gate agent who had checked the computer screen,” Dr. Tehmina Haque said.

It’s a long flight from Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles at 35,000 feet up. Ryahn’s parents had travelled with him previously on other airlines, they said, where announcements were made and flyers posted, informing passengers to take reasonable precautions to keep nuts off the flights.

“An allergy to nuts, whether peanuts, tree nuts or any type of nuts has been deemed a disability under the FAA regulations and federal code,” attorney Kenneth Mollins said.

An excerpt from the lawsuit reads: “…plaintiff’s son who has a severe life threatening tree nut and peanut allergy is considered disabled under the Air Carrier Access Act, and must be afforded the ability to travel comfortably.”

They are suing because they say their son’s civil rights were violated by flight attendants.

“She was loud, sarcastic, belittling, and pretty much said: ‘I do not care what you have been told up to now. I will be serving nuts in the main cabin,'” Haque said.

Nuts were sold to passengers in the main cabin, served warm — for free — in first class she says.

American says they try to accommodate all passenger requests, but there are no absolutes. They have no control over other passengers.

“…We cannot guarantee customers will not be exposed to peanuts during flight and strongly encourage customers to prepare for the possibility of exposure.”

“I think they put a dollar value on my son’s life,” Haque said.

She says the airline took a risk selling the nuts, but admits Ryahn did not get sick from the exposure.

Ryahn’s parents and their lawyer say if they win the peanut lawsuit every penny will be donated to The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.

American says the company does have a peanut policy which is posted on its Web site.

(Source: WCBSTV)

26 Responses

  1. There is an American saying, ‘Almost don’t count’.
    If the family wants to use this situation as a warning to the airlines then fine but to waste taxpayers dollars in a lawsuit over something which did not happen is discusting.

  2. to #1 you obviously don’t have any allergies nor does anyone in your close family. Nut allergies are deadly! akin to shooting someone in the head. For someone very allergic nuts, death can happen in as little as 3 minutes after exposure.

  3. #1 & #2 – Baruch Hashem, it seems as if you do not have family members with severe allergies. And I can’t tell you how lucky you are! Living with an allergy is a constant fear, especially outside the “safety” of your own home. One constantly has to worry about other people’s carelessness and the possibility of cross contamination. When it’s a child who has the allergy, the worry is compounded by the fact that they may resent the restrictions and “cheat.” A Peanut Allergy is one of the more severe allergies (and becoming increasingly more common) made all the more problematic by the fact that it is an AIRBORN allergy! Just having people open up their little peanut bags in a closed plane can have a devastating impact on an allergic child. If the airline told them that it would be peanut free – they should be held accountable! Their word is their word! And the fact that AA put out a statement saying “…We cannot guarantee customers will not be exposed to peanuts during flight and strongly encourage customers to prepare for the possibility of exposure,” shows how ignorant they are of the nature of anaphylactic reactions! The emergency EpiPen (an auto-injector of Epinephrine), that all severely allergic people carry with them, only bides you time and you still must seek emergency medical care ASAP – that may require an emergency landing! Is the airline willing to take that risk, too. An emergency landing is far more disruptive and disturbing to the passengers than not having thier bags of peanuts! (That happened to a friend of mine!) Let’s show a little more tolerance and understanding to people suffering with medical conditions on a daily basis!


  5. I have a child with severe nut allergy. It is very dangerous for these people to smell, touch, or eat nuts. They should have been more considerate

  6. #2 – they very clearly said that if they win this lawsuit, the money will be donated to TFAAN. This isn’t about money – this is about education and being considerate of how our actions affect others, to the point of causing them serious illness, or G-d forbid, death. I’m also quite sure that a major impetus behind their lawsuit has to do with the attitude of the flight attendant.

  7. I say this not to be cruel but to cite to people’s sense of self preservation. If you or your child has a serious allergy to nuts … one that can kill you in 3 minutes, as one person wrote above … and you have an airline that is explicitly not guaranteeing that the environment will be nut-free … then why are you flying on this airline?

    And if all airlines have adopted this policy then why, unless its a life or death situation itself, would you put your own life – of that of your child – in your hands?

    I’m not writing the above to be disrespectful. I agree that if schools can no longer serve peanut butter(!) then airlines probably should not be selling nuts.

  8. This will be the excuse why airlines will drop serving snacks on the airplane — thus achieving their true goal of saving money. Such a practice won’t necessarily help the peanut sensitive since other passengers can bring their own peanuts onto the plane.

  9. #10
    Whether they would keep their word or not about donating the money is irrelevant. The fact is if they want to raise a big stink about this as an awareness tool I’m all for it but wasting taxpayers dollars on courtroom operations is not justified when nothing happened.

  10. This is what AA posted on it’s website regarding peanuts, as company policy:

    “American recognizes that some passengers are allergic to peanuts. Although we do not serve peanuts, we do serve other nut products and there may be trace elements of unspecified peanut ingredients, including peanut oils, in meal and snacks.

    “We make no provisions to be peanut-free. Additionally, other customers may bring peanuts on board. Therefore, we cannot guarantee customers will not be exposed to peanuts during flight and strongly encourage customers to take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure.”

    This is a sham lawsuit.

  11. What I found interesting is that the “emergency medication should Ryahn go into Anaphylactic Shock” that they carry with them would not help much on a cross country flight.

    The emergency medicine is usually referred to as Epi Pen which is a brand name (similar to calling all tissues Kleenex). Epi Pens only have a limited amount of medication which is hopefully enough to get the patient to the hospital before going into respiratory arrest. If I recall, the Epi last for 15 minutes. Some Epi’s have two doses.

    Either way you slice the cake, the parents by definition are putting their child in danger by getting on a cross country flight. If he had an allergic reaction to anything and went into anaphalactic shock, it would take at least an hour for the plane to land and get the kid to the hospital.

    (I’m not saying that patients with severe allergies should not travel, but to go prepared for such a possibility)

  12. they must not be very busy doctors… because thank god nothing happened to the boy. so why they suing?

    if a judge could think they have a case here and actually win, then the american law is a little backwards!

    its like the woman who sued the microwave company because her cat died when she put it in her microwave… and actually won the case!

  13. Lgbg,

    The cat in the micorwave story is an urban legend, and the story of the woman winning the lawsuit for this is just another urban legend based on the first one.

    That said, I think that the lawsuit is mainly to stir up some negative publicity against the airline. Even if the suit were to go to trial (which I doubt) and they won (which I doubt even more), they suffered no real damages. They would not collect what it would cost them to pursue the case.

  14. what about people who are allergic to wheat then you can’t serve pretzels.
    as a person who has famaly members who are alergic to all types of nuts and all types of milk products who allways checks what the item is made from that is my problom and not the airlines.
    next time take a train or a bus.

  15. lawrenceyid: I understood clearly your point-the boys OK, so why sue? They are not suing because something bad happened, they are suing because their son was placed in a dangerous situation even though they were reassured before hand that there would be no nuts distributed on board. I assume they also feel that they had to spend the entire flight worrying that something MIGHT happen. They are suing so it WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN with, perhaps, not such a pleasant outcome! And no, (#9 & 11) they are not advocating making the world peanut free, they are requesting that in certain situations like an airplane where everyone is confined in one area without access to emergency medical care, and places like schools where children attend, should attempt to do what they can to ensure the safety of all.

  16. Typical AA- the flight attendants on AA make the Elal flight attendants look great. I hope they win their civil suit and teach them a lesson to start caring about the paying customers in coach.
    Remember they promised to donate all the $$$ if they win. Good luck to them.

  17. to # 1 and others:
    what does taxpayer money have to do with it?
    this is a (threatened) private lawsuit between
    a corporation and an individual.
    unless you mean the cost of the court.
    Well, that’s what courts are for.

    to no 17:
    That one (about the cat) isn’t a true story.

  18. #3 etc… why must we wait for travesties to occur before taking care of problems?

    and FYI, just last week my family flew Delta and my husband commented to the stewardess that he was surprised peanuts were being served, and she said specifically that when there is someone aboard with allergies peanuts are NOT served. So this is clearly not an uncommon rule and AA should be stopped from putting lives in danger.
    Endangerment is illegal. This lawsuit is against AA for endangering the life of a boy– thank G-d that is all they are responsible for.

  19. ok, but its mad funny.
    but how bout the woman who sued mcdonalds because her coffee spilled on her and she burnt herself?
    thats a true case.

  20. #20 and #22

    I realized that from the onset and what you are saying does makes alot of sense. I just feel they could drum up the heat with alot of publicity which would probably have the same results without a lawsuit using taxpayer’s money. In addition, don’t forget, if they were to lose the lawsuit which is a distinct possibility they have hurt their cause until a tradgedy actually happens.

    Yes, I’m referring to the taxpayers dollars of court costs which is not all absorbed by the losing party. I am only saying this with my above first paragraph in mind.

  21. You shouldnt sure anyway but if the kid didnt get sick why sue?? UNLESS YOU WANT MONEY!!

    If your kid is so alergic to nuts, I would suggest you get in your car and drive cross country.

    You are playing Russian Roulette with your kid’s life for what reason?! Money?

  22. mark levin obviously has no family member who is allergic to peanuts.Most yeshivas and camps are peanut free.We need to educate people about anaphylaxis to nuts.The airline did the wrong thing and now they will pay.

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