Cabin crew member wins compensation after turbulence injury

A cabin crew member who broke her leg in seven places after she was thrown to the floor when the aircraft she was on hit extreme turbulence now works at a travel agency.

Eden Garrity, who was 27 when she was working on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight from Cuba to Manchester in August 2019, won a reported six-figure payout following the incident. 

While Thomas Cook’s insurers denied responsibility for her injuries, she has since received a compensation care package which reflects her injuries and access to rehabilitation and treatment, as well as her loss of earnings and the impact that the incident had on her career progression, according to the law firm that took up her case.

Unable to walk for two months following the incident, Garrity has since undergone multiple operations and intense rehabilitation. 

While her condition has since improved the fall left her with ongoing health issues, including neuropathy, which makes it extremely painful for her to stand up for long periods of time.

The lasting damage means she will never be able to return to her career as cabin crew, and instead she now works at a travel agency.

Garrity, from Leigh, Manchester, sustained her injuries when the aircraft flew into a hailstorm over the Atlantic.  

While the aircraft had taken a detour of around 100 miles to avoid adverse weather conditions, she said that she and other crew members had not been made aware of the risk of turbulence either during the journey, or at the pre-flight staff briefing.

It was not until moments before flying into the hailstorm that the pilot asked crew members to be seated, but before she could safely secure the cart and sit down, Garrity was thrown to the floor as the aircraft suddenly rose hundreds of feet in altitude.

She sustained injuries during the incident leaving her in pain for the remainder of the seven-hour journey back to Manchester where she was taken to hospital as soon as the flight landed.

Garrity instructed Thompsons Solicitors through her union Unite to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident, and to bring a claim against her former employer’s insurer.

She said: “I wasn’t one of those people who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I wasn’t particularly academic, and I didn’t go to university, but when the opportunity to become an air hostess came my way, I felt like I had found my path in life.

“I absolutely loved my job, and I knew I had found my calling, so to speak. So, to suffer from injuries that were so severe that I literally couldn’t return after the incident has been utterly heartbreaking. The impact of the incident on my health and my career really has been devastating.

“I’m incredibly grateful to have had the support of my union following what happened so that I could access the rehabilitation and care that I needed, but I really should never have been put in this position in the first place.

“I hope other airlines learn from my story so that no one has to go through what I have in the future.”

As part of the case her legal team argued that staff should have been made aware that the flight would encounter poor flying weather, and that additional health and safety precautions should have been put in place.

Neil Richards, a workplace injury law expert at Thompsons Solicitors, who represented Garrity in her legal claim, said: “The circumstances surrounding the incident in which Miss Garrity sustained her injuries should have been foreseen.

“The issue of inflight safety, especially when working in certain geographical regions including the Caribbean, carries a known health and safety risk. Turbulence also represents an obvious and serious danger to all those onboard, and especially to airline staff who are required to work in and around the cabin in such environments.

“It is Miss Garrity’s hope that by speaking out she is able to highlight the need to put in place every possible precaution to protect anyone working on an aircraft whilst there is turbulence to prevent others suffering as she has.”

Unite legal director Stephen Pinder added: “Handling this intricate case demanded meticulous attention, and I am pleased with the result achieved for our member and their family.

“Unite will be taking the lessons learned during this case back into our industrial work to help ensure other airline staff are protected from similar incidents.”

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