A passenger has opened up a lawsuit against both American Airlines Inc. and SkyWest Airlines Inc. after he claimed that his pinky finger got stuck in the armrest mechanism of his seat on the plane for nearly an hour on his flight to Los Angeles.
As TIME Magazine reported, Stephen Keys has brought charges of negligence against American Airlines and SkyWest Airlines over the incident. According to court documents, Keys is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
American Airlines declined to comment on Keys’ lawsuit, and instead directed questions and comments to SkyWest. The company has flying agreements with several airlines, including American Airlines. They issued a statement on December 11.
“The comfort and safety of our passengers is our first priority. We worked with our partner American to reach out to Mr. Keys regarding his bruised finger and look forward to swiftly resolving this matter. Due to the ongoing litigation, we cannot comment further.”
The incident in question took place on September 9 this year, on a flight from Reno to Los Angeles, shortly before 1 p.m. He was seated in first class. According to the lawsuit, he had reached for the seat belt strap by lifting the right armrest, and his “right pinky finger became lodged inside a small hole under the armrest.”
“The spring mechanism embedded inside of this hole in the armrest applied intense pressure to plaintiff’s finger, immediately inflicting injury, swelling and pain,” the suit says.
Keys tried repeatedly to free his finger from the mechanism, doing his best to stay calm as he did.
“By this time, dozens of passengers became aware of Mr. Keys’ perilous condition, causing his dire situation to become a humiliating public spectacle,” the lawsuit states.
“By the end of it all, he remained entrapped in this nightmarish condition, suffering for nearly an hour.”
Crew on board the plane as well as members of a fire department rescue team also worked to try and dislodge his finger, but were unable to do so. Eventually, an airline mechanic was called to the scene at the airport in Los Angeles, and he was able to completely disassemble the armrest in order to free Keys’ finger.
As the lawsuit states, the injury to his finger has rendered Keys unable to perform many of his normal daily tasks, including driving and playing with his children. He stated that he was left in pain for weeks as a result of the incident and suffered severe emotional distress.