September 12, 2001-Airline sued over use of pest sprays
A group of airline passengers is suing United Airlines alleging they were made sick by pesticides used on flights from the US to Australia. A doctor and his wife, who fell ill on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles last year, are leading the lawsuit, alleging the airline had known for years that the sprays were harming people. Thousands of other passengers from Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world could join the action, which if successful may cost the airline millions of dollars. "It is premature to speculate about how high that (damages) is but I think it is quite a significant amount of money," said a Chicago-based lawyer involved in preparing the suit.
Dr Richard Dorazio, the chief of surgery at a major LA hospital, his wife Sharon and their two teenage grandsons were on a United Airlines flight in August last year when all four claim they were adversely impacted by the pesticides. Australian and New Zealand law forces airlines flying into both countries to spray their planes to help keep out exotic pests that could harm the environment and agriculture.
This includes the use of both aerosol insecticides during flights and so-called "residual spraying" of pesticides. The pesticides, which contain permethrin, phenothrin and xylene, are specifically designed to adhere to surfaces in the passenger and crew areas of the planes for at least eight weeks. The lawsuit alleges United Airlines "has known for many years that the pesticides used on the flights between California, Australia and New Zealand have caused illness and injury to passengers".
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