SWA and SWA FA sued over spilled hot tea


Staff member
This one sounds similar to the famous McDonalds lawsuit from a decade or so ago.

FA also sued separately, according to the article. Maybe PL insurance a good idea?

Washington (CNN) -- A Tennessee woman sued Southwest Airlines and a flight attendant Tuesday for $800,000 for serving tea she says severely burned her.

On December 28, 2011, Angelica Keller was seated in the window seat of the front row on Flight 955 between Nashville and Houston with a stop in New Orleans.

She ordered hot tea, and the suit says the flight attendant brought her a cup of "extremely hot water" sitting in another cup which contained the tea bag and condiment packets.

In the "plaintiffs efforts to extricate the tea bag from its position of being wedged between the tilted paper 'hot cup' of extremely hot water and the shorter clear plastic soft drink cup, the extremely hot water spilled into her lap at her groin area," the suit said.

Keller's body suffered second degree burns and her skin blistered, peeled and she was permanently scarred, the lawyers said.

"Our Customers' comfort is our top priority at all times, and we safely serve about 100 million drinks onboard every year," Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said in a statement. "The referenced event is unfortunate, and we are currently reviewing it. We can't provide additional details due to the pending lawsuit that was filed."

Southwest does not have tray tables in the front rows of its aircraft, and Keller's suit said that contributed to the accident.

It also said the airline served the drink in an unreasonable manner and used "hot water at a temperature too hot for use in an aircraft."

Mainz was unable to provide the standard temperature of the water on Southwest flights, but said it has never been an issue in the past.

The suit, filed Tuesday, seeks $300,000 for property damages, medical bills, injuries and pain and suffering as well as $500,000 in punitive damages.
Story here:



Well-Known Member
Wow.... I love that it isn't even the FA that spilled it. I hope a judge just smacks this lady.


Staff member
Does SWA's first row not have the fold-out traytables built into the armrests? I've never flown SWA so I don't know.. but other than Eagle's older ATRs (built in the mid 80s) I've never seen a front seat row without fold-out traytables.

And yes, when you order hot tea... it's probably going to be, oh, I dunno, maybe HOT!!!


Well-Known Member

No fold out in front row SWA.

But in some sense I guarantee this lady will win due to strict liability, even though I do not agree that she should receive anything.


Well-Known Member
" she was permanently scarred, the lawyers said."

really? I've burned myself plenty of times through my own negligence, but I only have one noticeable scar. That scar, incidentally, was not through my own negligence, rather it was inflicted by a cigarette which was held there until the skin blistered... perhaps I should sue whatever company makes Marlboro's...


El Chupacabra
Not trying to say anything about this Southwest case, but for those that think the McDonald's burn case was frivolous, do a Google image search for "Stella Liebeck vs Mcdonalds - Hot Coffee Documentary" and click on the second link. It has some pretty graphic pictures of the defendant's injuries. Coffee shouldn't do that.


Dispatch Betty
Alls I know is, the first time I get off at 4 am and get on my flight home and get told that "due to liability reasons we can no longer serve coffee".... lets just say, you're going to see a news report of a forced landing due to some sleep deprived dispatcher turning back into her true form due to lack of hot, caffienated beverage...


You mean Shennanigans?!?!
"It also said the airline served the drink in an unreasonable manner and used "hot water at a temperature too hot for use in an aircraft."

Waaaaa? What then, is the proper temperature of water suitable for use in a flying meat tube?


Staff member
Coffeemakers (even home coffeemakers) brew up HOT HOT HOT beverages. If I pour a cup of coffee from our Cuisinart or Keurig coffeemakers I have to leave it sit for damn near 10 minutes before I can drink it. I'm sure people, in their homes, have spilled hot drinks on themselves, just poured from their home coffeemakers. Should the coffeemaker manufacturer be sued for that?

Yes, the beverage was probably quite hot. But do we sue a screwdriver manufacturer if we stick ourselves in the eye with it? It's a SCREWDRIVER, it's made of hard metal and is pretty sharp. It makes sense to keep it away from eyes, and to even use safety glasses when using tools. There is an amount of personal responsibility we all accept when we do things in our lives. If you order a hot drink, know it will be HOT, and take the proper precautions. If you are not in a position to safely handle a hot drink (say, seated in an airplane seat with no traytable) perhaps you should request a beverage that is not hot.


My member is well-known.
"It also said the airline served the drink in an unreasonable manner and used "hot water at a temperature too hot for use in an aircraft."

Waaaaa? What then, is the proper temperature of water suitable for use in a flying meat tube?
That's actually a good question. According to this site, proper brewing temperatures for tea can vary between 176º and boiling. A person who drinks tea should be aware that the water they are served will be near boiling, and take proper precautions, like having whatever surface you will be placing the beverage on ready to go. Since she was bulkhead, she should have had the pull up-and-out table ready, and if she didn't, the FA should have had her get it in place.


Evil Landlord Capitalist
This is absolutely awesome. Take them for everything you can, lady! :)

But aside from my personal hatred for our evil Tex-ass overlords, it sounds like a reasonable suit to me. Hot tea shouldn't cause second degree burns through clothing.