Woman Trips In The Aisle Of United Flight, Sues The Airline

Lynn Goldberg tripped in the aisle of a United Airlines Boeing 737 from Fort Lauderdale to Houston on February 18, 2021. She had been seated with her husband in a middle and window seat of row 8 when she got up about 45 minutes into the flight to use the lavatory at the back of the aircraft. Ms. Goldberg wasn’t going to violate the sanctity of the first class cabin!

Passengers had been told it was safe to move about the cabin, butt “the interior cabin lighting was still turned down and the walkway was illuminated by green lights on the floor.” When she made it back to row 11 “her right foot struck a dark, hard piece of [another passenger’s] luggage that was sticking out into the aisle.” She fell, and her suit claims “she suffered serious, permanent injuries as a result of her fall.”

  • My first instinct is to think that the passenger didn’t look where she was going
  • and if the cabin was too dim for her to see well then she should have been more careful.
  • I start to wonder whether the passenger whose bag protruded into the aisle might have some responsibility.

Here’s the theory of why United is at fault,

United Airlines Flight Attendants failed to ensure that passengers were complying with FAA mandates concerning bag storage, failed to perform safety checks, failed to keep the aisle free and clear of obstruction, and failed to appropriately train its flight crew to follow federal rules and regulations.

What do you think, is a slip and fall necessarily the fault of an airline when another passenger’s bag protrudes into the aisle? Or – sometimes – do accidents happen, and unfortunate as it is, that’s why they’re called accidents?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “She fell, and her suit claims “she suffered serious, permanent injuries as a result of her fall.” ”

    Any idea what those “serious, permanent injuries” are?

  2. DEEP POCKETS! The injured passenger “suffered serious, permanent injuries as a result of her fall.” Bull crap! Did she lose a limb? Did she suffer blindness in either eye? Here’s the big one…were her injuries severe enough to divert the flight to seek immediate medical attention? After all, she’s suffered serious, permanent injuries…right? BULL! DEEP POCKETS! United…if you lose this case…appeal. If you win, sue her for your legal fees.

  3. As a former flight attendant for over 35 years it would be impossible to monitor a full flight continuously unless the flight attendants would walk up and down the aisles every :30 seconds. That might wear out the carpet as well. It is the passenger’s responsibility to watch where they are stepping.

  4. Well, of course this lawsuit has nothing to do with the stupid woman tripping and getting hurt. It’s just a tailor-made situation … United will pay her something. She knows it, the lawyers know it, and UA knows it. Until the prevailing mood of this country swings from “liberal nanny state” back towards self reliance, these frivolous lawsuits will continue to be filed. The cases need to be thrown out the minute they’re filed, that’s the only way to keep the greedy from continuing to exploit the system.

  5. Yeah serious, permanent injuries – body injury or not, the incident will forever imprint on her mind that she cannot step into another aircraft from now on, this is an egregious crime doled by United. Her rights are asserted!

  6. as a f/a… 45 minutes after takeoff, passengers CAN place their bags as they wish. Flight attendants only advise passengers that bags need to be properly stowed for taxi, takeoff and landing. There’s NO FAA regulation that states passengers bags must be securely stowed during the entire flight. If she tripped on the bag of the passenger that was a seated on the aisle seat of her row, then clearly that’s her fault, as they can have their bag by their feet during the flight.

  7. Of course she has permanent and serious injuries. These happened when she was born and raised. It’s called greed. Greed is definitely a serious and permanent injury for many.

  8. Wow I can’t even count how many times I’ve tripped over someone’s foot protruding into the aisle regardless of aircraft type or cabin. I flew many red eyes where cabin lights were dimmed but this happens even in daylight. I guess. Matter where you go people are going to be inconsiderate and accidents will happen as a result.

  9. In Michigan, lawyer David Femminineo is suing the owner of a SUV who brought the vehicle to a Chrysler dealer for an oil change. A dealer employee didn’t know how to drive a stick shift and killed an employee when he let his foot off the clutch suddenly, lurching the vehicle forward. There was nothing wrong with the SUV, just the employee driver not knowing how to drive.

    This is a worse example of evil lawyers suing.

  10. The ski industry resolved these types of frivolous lawsuits by listing tems on a ski pass that inclue injury and death.

    As the airlines likely don’t do their in their Contract of Carriage, the lawsuit will go forward… with my prediction terms changing following the case.

    Right now the United terms for injury only cover international customers.

  11. I agree this is an accident. People need to look down and ahead when they are walking down the aisle of an airplane .

  12. hueyjudy and fernsie -You are right on!!!! sad we are the nation of snowflakes and nanny state

  13. After asking my resident legal expert, it’s what I thought – there are three liable parties, the airline (contributory negligence), the passenger who had their bag in the aisle (direct cause), and the woman who tripped (yes, your own behavior can contribute to an accident you suffer harm from). Under the common law doctrine of joint and several liability, it would be up to a jury to assign blame and damages among those parties.

    As unfair as it may seem, the airline is partially at fault, they are responsible to make sure the aircraft is kept in safe condition, including patrolling the aisles for unsafe behavior on the part of other passengers. The person who partially placed their bag in the aisle is clearly liable. The woman who tripped may be liable as well, as she has a duty to walk carefully, not run down the aisle – did she have a drink both during and before the flight, etc.

    This is clearly headed for an out of court settlement.

  14. Did she get to pee or evacuate her bowels in the facilities or was she forced to relieve herself in aisle as a result of said injuries?

  15. Do y’all know what the safety checks are that they ‘failed to do ‘?! Here’s a clue… It’s nothing to do with how a bag is stowed inflight.

    This will be thrown out of court faster than a 787 flies.

    Unless flight diverted for serious injury it was not serious. The only permanent injury is her chutzpah.

  16. Anything is possible with the right representation and a jury trial. Which is why this will be modestly settled out of court.

  17. Absolute bull shit and the lawyer should be tarred and feathered for such a frivolous case. It takes a special person to immediately think “I’ll sue over my clumsiness”. Like Win said, what are these “permanent and severe” injuries that didn’t warrant a divergent? Ugh. People.

  18. That oil change wrongful death incident can be argued so many ways with so many nuances that it could be a hypothetical straight out of a law school torts class.

  19. Call me weird but when I can’t see we’ll enough to walk, I grab my phone and use the light option. But alas, in the US it is better to feign severe injuries and get corporations to cough up out-of-court settlements. Isn’t this taught in middle school in the States: How to file absurd suits to collect from insurance companies and major corporations?

  20. Crap like this is why US carriers turn on the seat belt sign at the slightest hint of bumps, having to account for the lowest common denominators in society.

  21. @C_M: I am not an attorney so I learned a lot after reading what you wrote. Very well written and explanation. Thank you (and thanks to your lawyer as well).

  22. I am so glad I no longer live in a society (USA) where people sue over anything/everything rather than take personal responsibility for their actions. The airline should not allow this passenger yo fly with them again. Don’t give her a dime!

  23. Joanie — you make her look like a saint – EXPLAIN WHAT HER NAME HAS TO DO WITH IT

  24. So to play devils advocate, what if she made it to the restroom, passengers pissed and sprayed water on the floor. Upon exiting she falls and suffers these same damages. Is UA a responsible party? I would argue of course they are.

    So while this seems slightly more cut and dry I am not sure it is and UA will likely have to payout. I am surprised someone would go to lengths to even file this. It was obviously an accident.

  25. @Huey Judy, @DEE, et al: LOL “liberal nanny state”. Tell it to the gov of Texas, Greg Abbott. Injured and paralyzed in the 1980s with no health insurance, he (deservedly so) got a big payout that set him up for life. Then as an elected official, he changed all the laws to limit payouts for the exact same type of accident and made it impossible for anyone in the same situation as he was to get the same payout. Classic GOP/Boomer snowflake mentality, thinking they’re SO special that they deserve special treatment for how amazing they are, but everyone else are leeches. “Me generation” indeed.

    For what it’s worth this sounds 100% like a frivolous lawsuit, but had to say something to all the dummies out there talking this “nanny state” BS, give me a break

  26. Gary, shame on you for allowing Joanie’s vile perverted insight to be published. Please remove it now before you find yourself on the wrong end of legal proceedings.

  27. @Charlie – it was a Jewish slur, I’m Jewish, and I didn’t “allow” it to be published – I do not review all comments prior to publication. The comment was simply submitted. Now, I did review it, but I would certainly bear no legal liability for it (and neither would she, actually, hate-filled as it was).

  28. Gary, shame on you for not taking the post down when you saw it. If the remark had been against someone on the basis of their skin color, ethnic origin, homosexual orientation or gender identity I am sure it would not still be there.

  29. @Charlie – I did remove it when I saw it, why do you think otherwise? It’s Mother’s Day, I do not have any staff, I was away from the comments for a couple of hours.

  30. As United announces on every flight, the flight attendants are there primarily for your safety. If there was a bag In the aisle and United’s employees didn’t do anything about it, United has liability.

  31. “Please remove it now before you find yourself on the wrong end of legal proceedings.” What an incredibly ironic statement to make about a post on frivolous lawsuits. Thanks for the laugh Charlie.

  32. Didn’t see the comment, but Section 230 applies to this website. No liability can attach to the operator from a comment, especially an unsolicited one. The poster might be liable, but no poster is liable for a rude opinion. For now.

  33. I think the passenger whose Baggage was sticking out should be sued. I’m not sure about the airline

  34. What’s wrong is these people take no responsibility for their own actions.
    I’m guessing alcohol was involved and even is not get a grip
    You “ fell “ because of your actions. No one else’s!!!!!

  35. IF people are allowed to be up and about, then I think there is SOME responsibility on the airline to maintain some level of lighting that allows them to adequately find their way to the facilities as needed. Passengers who put their brains in their checked bags should be warned prior to departure to keep their crap from extending into the aisle and FA’s should be assuring that as they do walk throughs. But assuming no one saw the damn bag in question, it is on the passenger to pay attention like most of us do on the ground…if you trip, it’s on you for not paying better attention, though accidents do as noted happen. I am reminded of a time at an apartment complex I was visiting and on the way back to my car the toe of my shoe caught on slightly raised square of concrete sidewalk and down I went. My Rx sunglasses flew off and a lens broke, my pants were torn and I was injured at the knee…guess I missed my opportunity. BTW Gary, I see you are stilling allowing posts by this “ayenus” in spite of the offensive post in responsse to one of mine. He must bring in many readers/posters for you to allow this.

  36. I’m not afraid to say, this situation definitely looks anti-Semitic, I’m not a Jew, but this is text book bigotry

  37. OMG, you can sue for just about anything. The article does not state the specifics needed to make an intelligent opinion. As a former flight attendant, I have walked up and down poorly lit aisles thousands of times, and never tripped. Most of my passengers were foreign, and they frequently did not understand the instructions given in the. Preflight announcements. I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles, and never tripped once. How much did she have to drink? Was she on drugs? Did she have a blood test done after the fall to prove that she was not drunk, or on drugs? If the lights were dimmed before she got up, then her eyes would have been used to the lower lighting in the cabin, so it doesn’t matter….This is just greed! I guess she will get a settlement of 50-100k, which is substantial for most people. I don’t see this as a multi-million dollar lawsuit, It is just so sad that when a company is sued, it means that the price of the other passenger’s ticket will increase. I hope she is permanently banned from flying in the future! Airlines do a lot of stuff wrong, but this is not legit….

  38. Amazing how self centered many of these comments are. A fall that could result in a bruise for someone who is middle aged or younger may result in a serious injury for an elderly person (osteoporosis is more common in females), any elderly person. I understand the PI lawyer bashing but you might consider some critical thinking when it involves others . . . even “Boomers”. May you be fortunate enough to live to the Senior Citizen stage and in the meantime give those who are enjoying travel the courtesy and respect many deserve.
    Regarding children in F and J, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. You know your children’s tolerance better than anyone else.

  39. I’m betting the airline offers a generous settlement, the plaintiff rejects it in hopes of a bigger jackpot if she wins, then loses it all when the judge tosses the suit on a technicality.

  40. Very very true One Trippe, trips/falling not good for anyone of any age, but yes can really impact those who are older. We are all frailer than we appear. I’m in favor of taking responsibility, not suing for my own clutziness should I fall, and FA’s keeping their eyes open and aisles clear…but for sure a simple fall for those younger may have far more impact on someone older…especially in the middle of a trip (no pun intended). Broken wrists happen, twisted shoulders…suddenly someone who can ambulate well alone needs help….

  41. She fell, and her suit claims “she suffered serious, permanent injuries as a result of her fall.”

    Now she can’t go to Temple!

  42. I’m not saying anything about the liability, but substantial costs can result from a trip and fall. A while ago, a mascot for the Chicago Bulls did a high five with a fan. It damaged something in his hand. He was an oral surgeon, and the injury kept him from being able to work for several years

  43. Ya ya ya… and UA will just raise the ticket prices to pay for it , so in all the passengers are paying her claim …. Not the airline.

  44. @C_M, “the airline is partially at fault, they are responsible to make sure the aircraft is kept in safe condition, including patrolling the aisles for unsafe behavior on the part of other passengers” Whether the airline actually has an obligation to patrol the aisles (especially frequently enough to make sure there are never any bags in the aisle) is far from clear. Do you or your lawyer have any actual laws, regulations or cases to demonstrate this?

    @Tim j, “UA will just raise the ticket prices to pay for it” If UA thought it could raise ticket prices, it already would have. Why would it be leaving money on the table by charging less than it could? It charges what the market would bear.

  45. Frivolous lawsuits have been around for years and years. Not sure the outcome of this lawsuit but if someone gets hurt on any property you can sue for injury. That said IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING A LIBERAL. GREEDY IS GREEDY WHETHER YOU VOTE RED OR BLUE. It’s always disappointing when people have no idea what they’re talking about. BTW there are many ambulance chasing lawyers in congress from all political parties. THAT WHAT’S WRONG IN THIS COUNTRY. Ignorance is bliss

  46. @Richard – It’s basic liability law, a property owner is responsible for maintaining the state of their property. If someone is injured while on your property, you might be liable. Anyone can file a claim, whether you’re liable or not, and you’ll have to pay for the defense. One definition found by quick Google search: “A legally enforceable claim on the assets of a business or property of an individual. In business, liability results from a breach of duty or obligation by act or failure to act.”

    You slip and fall in a grocery story from a spill by another customer, the store can be held liable, as they didn’t maintain a safe environment for all customers. A person comes to your house and slips on the front porch, they can sue you – if there is some fault with the porch, the person can win damages, even if the other person was uninvited. A child cuts across your lawn and falls on a tool left in the yard, you can be held liable. It’s why everyone should carry an umbrella liability insurance policy if you have any amount of substantial assets like a house or even an income. You might think you’re not liable for things, a court may disagree and seize your assets or future income. Lawyers are expensive. Umbrella policies are a bargain at about $200/yr for $1 million in coverage, and that includes putting up a defense. You get sued, you hand it over to the insurance company. Cheap peace of mind.

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