A faulty defibrillator aboard an American Airlines flight led to a 14 year old's death, a new lawsuit claims

A faulty defibrillator aboard an American Airlines flight led to a 14 year old's death, a new lawsuit claims
  • Kevin Greenidge was 14 years old when he experienced cardiac arrest on an American Airlines flight.

  • A lawsuit filed recently by the teenager's mother alleges the defibrillator on the plane wasn't working.

  • Automatic external defibrillators have been required on commercial aircraft since 2004.

A 14-year-old boy went into cardiac arrest on an American Airlines flight, but couldn't be revived when a doctor tried to use a defibrillator on board, a new lawsuit filed by the boy's mother says.

The suit says the defibrillator was faulty — and places the blame on American Airlines.

Kevin Greenidge was flying from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to Miami last June when he experienced the cardiac issue, according to the suit filed this month in federal court in New York by his mother, Melissa Arzu. She's seeking unspecified damages.

The lawsuit alleges that American Airlines failed to "ensure that the automatic external defibrillator and its mobile battery pack were fully and properly charged," and that the airline's alleged negligence "caused, permitted, and/or hastened the untimely death of" Greenidge.

Thomas Giuffra, a partner at law firm Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin who is representing Arzu, said Kevin was traveling with his uncle to New York when he fell ill. He was returning from a family vacation.

In a statement to Insider, an American Airlines spokesperson said the carrier was reviewing details of the lawsuit. "Our thoughts are with Mr. Greenidge and his loved ones," the airline said.

Defibrillators have been federally required on all passenger aircraft since 2004, and American Airlines became the first US commercial airline to put defibrillators on its planes in 1997 and to train its flight attendants to use them. They are considered "no-go" items, meaning that if they are missing or "inoperative" the plane should not be dispatched, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Individual airlines should develop a protocol for automatic external defibrillator use," according to the FAA. The minimum requirement is that the defibrillator is "operative" before a flight takes off and airlines should inspect the AEDs according to their manufacturer's recommendations.

American Airlines didn't comment to Insider on the number of times defibrillators have been used on its flights. In a 2007 press release, the airline noted 10 years of having defibrillators on planes, mentioning 76 lives that it said had been saved by the devices.

A study by the Journal of the American Heart Association estimates that there are approximately 350 "air-travel associated" cardiac arrests each year in the US and that a quarter of those occur on a plane.

According to the study, 15% of those who had a cardiac arrest on a plane survived long enough to be discharged from the hospital. The national average of survival for cardiac arrests happening outside of the hospital is less than 11%, and the study directly links the higher rate on planes to the presence of a defibrillator.

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