Smyrna woman sues Southwest Airlines for $800K over spilled tea during flight

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 5:14pm

Due to high flight costs and the prevalence of add-on fees, many travelers are feeling burned by the airline industry.

But, according to a lawsuit filed in Davidson County Circuit Court on Tuesday, a woman was literally burned by Southwest Airlines.

Angelica Keller, of Smyrna, is suing the airline after she spilled hot tea on her lap and suffered second-degree burns. According to the suit, Keller was traveling from Nashville to Houston when she ordered hot tea.

She was seated on the first row of the plane, so she didn’t have a drop-down table, or any other flat surface, available to her. Keller claims the tea bag was wedged between two cups and when she tried to extricate it, the water spilled on her lap.

She had her seat belt on, so the hot water spread around the seat before she could unbuckle and stand up. According to the suit, her skin was peeling even though she was fully clothed. She also suffered permanent scarring.

The lawsuit claims Southwest failed “to warn [her]... of any potential danger involved in the delivery of hot tea during a flight” in a bulkhead seat. The suit also accuses Southwest of allowing the water to be too hot for a flight, which can be subject to turbulence.

The suit asks for $300,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Keller’s attorney, Robert Anderson, declined to comment. Southwest didn’t return a request for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.

19 Comments on this post:

By: CrimesDown on 9/25/12 at 3:28

Let me get this straight. She sat in a front row seat. She know she didn't have a tray. She ordered hot tea, and got it. She then spilled the hot tea on herself and is expecting an airline to pay her $800,000. I guess what she wanted was the airline to give her the hot tea through an I.V., just to be safe. What an IDIOT.

By: Rasputin72 on 9/25/12 at 5:03

I would guess that this woman is part of the 47%.

She perhaps is devoid of any othet talent save the right to sue.

The Lawyer may have said, "I am struggling because there are almost as many Lawyers in this country as there are starlings.". "Lets throw this against the wall and see if anything sticks".

By: TITAN1 on 9/25/12 at 7:02

If you can't handle a hot drink like a big girl should she should order iced tea. When I order coffee in a restaurant I ask them to put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. I want my hot drink to be hot just as I want my cold drink to be cold. If I spill it, my bad. Is she a relative of the one who sued McDonalds years ago?

By: Tony Mwapy on 9/26/12 at 6:25

She needs to be tried under Darwins Law.

By: budlight on 9/26/12 at 7:18

I remember a waitress spilling a cup of hot coffee on me when I was wearing shorts one summer. It was in a little restaurant in Utah. Yes, it burned and yes it hurt. That woman was so upset with herself and apologized 50 times. I guess it never occurred to me to sue her. It was an ACCIDENT! Then years later the McDonald's hot coffee woman started this whole "sue the coffee (tea) spiller"!

Rasp, you are probably correct about the 47%. Wow Titan1 you really do like hot drinks with that 20 seconds in microwave for hotter coffee.

By: Vuenbelvue on 9/26/12 at 7:18

In Davidson County, Tn., she will have a 2 year wait before a court date and then be talked into settling without a trial and if that goes south, arbitration. Most likely event is unless she lost a limb, and had a sterling reputation before, most attorneys would refuse the business. I'm surprised someone agreed to represent her for this. Seems like she is as responsible as not.

By: Rocket99 on 9/26/12 at 7:23

I thought those seats had the tables that came out of the chair arm. Maybe not.

The sad part is, she will probably get something out of it. Southwest may decide it's better to pay her a pitance than deal with court.

Can't imagine hot tea on a flight being so hot that going through her clothes it would cause skin peeling and permanent scars.

By: dustywood on 9/26/12 at 7:28

I have had burns, MY BAD, as an adult I do not have to be warned that HOT IS HOT. You usually learn that from your mom by age 2 yrs. I heard that she had requested TWO cups of tea. Any way you can ask for a table top if needed. Now was there major damage done? I strongly believe that all she should get is the actual medical bills paid. The true ones, not the made up mental pain. Hot tea was not spilled on her brain. Stupid should not be rewarded. Now if she saved a life, that is different. Of course no one gets rewarded for CPR . Where were her seat mates?

By: budlight on 9/26/12 at 8:22

What does "legitimate anti-corporatism" mean?

If you mean no more corporations, what do you suppose we do: Have a million little mom and pop businesses? Well, look at your buddy Bill Gates. He turned his little mom & pop garage business into a corporation (or a conglomerate ?).

There is no way we can employ and thus feed even the U.S. without small, medium and yes, even BIG business, aka Corporations.

And it's people like this flying tea drinker who cause Corporations and LLC's to be formed to start with.

By: laurajo521 on 9/26/12 at 8:32

I never, ever order hot drinks on planes. EVER. There is too much turbulence, people getting in and out of seats and bumping each other, the trays aren't very sturdy, etc. It's just too risky to drink anything hot, even if it's not hot enough to burn you.

By: localboy on 9/26/12 at 9:01

Thanks for keeping your eye on the ball, budlight. ;)

By: jwk6179 on 9/26/12 at 11:09

This is what's wrong with America today, too many frivolous lawsuits and people suing at a drop of a hat. I could understand hte lady suing Southwest Airlines if the flight attendent had purposely thrown scaulding water (or Tea) on the passenger, resulting in serious injuries, but not when the passenger spilled the hot tea on herself. One of my uncles developed emphysema and later lung cancer from 35 years or so of smoking. Maybe he should have sued RJ Reynolds selling him cigarettes.

By: dargent7 on 9/27/12 at 4:39

This all started with the baffoon who spilled coffe on her at McDonalds. She also got $800,000. I guess that's the magic number for scum lawyers to take the case.
They get 40%, so $320,000 isn't too bad for a cheap day's work. The paralegal and secretary do all the paperwork and the head-chump shows up in court once.
Sadly, like McDonalds, they "settle". Cheaper.

By: jonw on 9/27/12 at 7:41

Seems that this woman wants to be warned about common sense occurences. Therefore, I'm warning her that if she steps in front of my car while it is moving. she could get hurt.

By: TITAN1 on 9/27/12 at 8:40

jw, sadly people have gotten paid after suing the tobacco industry for getting cancer and won. I smoked 2 packs a day for 12 years, but quit over 35 years ago. If I had gotten cancer or any other illness it was my fault for being an idiot.

By: docjunkie on 9/27/12 at 10:16

There is an entire documentary about this issue made just last year. Watch the documentary Hot Coffee if you want to be informed on the matter. Most of you are dead wrong with your logic. I cannot speak to this particular incident as there is not enough information here. But, as for the lady that was burned at McDonald's years ago, you are all wrong. She received 3rd degree burns that required skin graphs all over her body. This occurred after the company had complaints on file from hundreds of people that had been burned by their coffee due to the fact it was way too hot for human consumption. The temperature was mandated at all locations by the McDonald's handbook they must follow. The more you know!

By: TITAN1 on 9/27/12 at 2:46

When I order hot coffee I don't give them a temperature, I just want it HOT. If you or I spill it on ourselves, our fault, nobody else to blame.

By: cwmartin on 9/28/12 at 7:55

In this case I don't know all the facts and I personally have a problem with people suing for whatever they want or can. If the legal system would change so when someone loses a case...they pay all the court cost and legal fees of those being sued, we would see fewer stupid lawsuits. In the McDonald's case, the facts support the lawsuit "Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants". The coffee was served at 180–190 °F (82–88 °C). At that temperature, the coffee would cause a third-degree burn in two to seven seconds. Just saying.

By: Goodman on 5/6/13 at 5:42

Angelica is a habitual liar. If the truth does not fit her agenda, then she simply makes an alternate "truth". Pitiful!