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Woman sues Southwest, says airline ejected her for removing mask to drink water -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO A Southwest Airlines plane is seen at Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida. October 11, 2021. REUTERS/Joe skipper/File photo

Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK – Southwest Airlines (NYSE) Co sued a 68-year old woman in Florida for $10 million Tuesday. The woman claimed she was ejected from a Southwest Airlines flight after repeatedly having to take off her mask so that she could drink water.

Medora Clai reading claimed she was incorrectly taken from her flight from Washington, D.C. to Palm Beach, Florida on Jan. 7, 2021. A hostile flight attendant demanded that she wear her mask despite having medical conditions, such as low blood sugar and a heart condition, which required that she be hydrated.

Southwest didn’t immediately comment on the matter, as they were still reviewing it.

Reading’s suit in Brooklyn federal court is different from other disputes involving travelers refusing to wear masks.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, airline staff in 2021 reported 5,981 incidents involving unruly passengers. This includes 4,290 mask-related incidents.

Reading claimed that Reading offered to present her medical exemption card to the attendant but was informed, “we don’t care.” Reading also complained that the attendant later objected that Reading continued to drink water and shouted, “You were speaking!”

Reading stated that she was eventually escorted off the plane by a gate attendant. The unmasked pilot laughingly ejected her as she cried.

While she claimed that nearby police assisted her in getting into a chair, and also offered water to help with the situation, she said similar incidents were common and it was usually Southwest.

Kristina Huser, Reading lawyer said in an interview that there was a “planeload” of witnesses who saw the encounter. Some may even have taped it.

Heuser claimed that Southwest’s “hostile” and “abusive” behavior was a manifestation of a “COVID madness” which should not be allowed to override federal laws protecting individuals with medical disabilities.

Reading claims that Reading violated the federal Air Carrier Access Act as well as other civil rights laws.

Indicted are the flight attendant, two gate officers and pilot. None of them can be identified.

Reading v Southwest Airlines Co et al. U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York. 22-00265.

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