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Woman Sues Airline Over Screaming Toddler

We all know that a screaming toddler can drive anyone crazy. But can you sue over it?

That’s just what one woman is doing. Jean Barnard, an American tourist who was on her way to vacation in Australia and New Zealand last January, claims that a three-year-old boy screamed so loud that she was left “stone cold deaf,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Ms. Barnard sued the airline Qantas. The case was settled last week.

“The pain was so excruciating that I didn’t even know I was deaf,” Ms. Barnard said, describing  the incident during a deposition for a civil lawsuit she filed against the airline in the US District Court in Los Angeles.

The 67-year-old claims she suffered severe and permanent injuries from the toddler’s scream and sought damages for physical and mental suffering, medical expenses and loss or impairment of earning capacity. All I can say is: give me a break.

Ms. Barnard’s lawyer argued that the airline was negligent because the plane’s cabin and cockpit crew failed “to take all the necessary precautions to prevent the accident that resulted” in her “injury”.

Qantas’s US legal team argued that Ms. Barnard had a hearing problem before she got on the plane. There was no way the flight crew could have avoided the incident.

Lawyers argued in court that the “plaintiff’s injuries, if any, were caused by the arbitrary and volitional act of a three-year-old child. Flight attendants cannot predict when children aboard an aircraft are about to scream.”

We all know that three-year-olds are pretty arbitrary and certainly volatile.

Besides, apparently, Ms. Barnard admitted wearing hearing aids before going on the trip.

“I guess we are simply fortunate that my eardrum was exploding and I was swallowing blood. Had it not been for that, I would have dragged that kid out of his mother’s arms and stomped him to death. Then we would have an ‘international incident’,” Ms Barnard allegedly wrote in an e-mail to her travel agent.

Wow. I hope this lady isn’t anyone’s grandmother!

Seriously, I feel sorry that Ms. Barnard suffered any discomfort, but can she really expect that kids are never going to scream — especially when they’re on a plane that’s about to take off? I hope this case doesn’t encourage even more backlash against parents travelling with young children. As it is, we already get “the look” as soon as we board a plane with our kids.

Have you had passengers complain about your kids on a plane?

Photo: flickr/ma1974

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