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Family sues Southwest Airlines over fall at Fort Lauderdale airport

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A South Florida family is suing Southwest Airlines and one of its contractors in Broward District Court, alleging that their disabled daughter was thrown from her wheelchair while boarding a flight out of Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and left life-changing injuries in her wake.

According to the lawsuit, on February 25, 25-year-old Gabby Assouline, who was diagnosed at age 12 with a genetic disorder that made it difficult to walk long distances but otherwise allowed her high functionality, was taken on board Southwest Flight 1002 to Denver to visit her sister.

The lawsuit alleges that Assouline’s power wheelchair struck an intersection in the passenger boarding bridge, causing her to be thrown from the wheelchair, resulting in serious injuries that left her paralyzed and forced to use a ventilator.

“It’s unfathomable, I just think about it,” said Felix Assouline, Gabby’s father.

Assouline’s mother, Sandra, said the last time she saw her daughter before the accident was when she dropped her off at the gate. The lawsuit alleges that Sandra Assouline was given an escort card to escort her daughter through security.

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The two all smiled as they took a selfie.

“The next thing I got was a call from BSO (said) my daughter was involved in an accident and broke her neck,” said Sandra Assouline.

The family’s lawsuit alleges that Southwest Airlines and its contractor, G2 Secure Staff, were negligent, including failing to provide adequate wheelchair assistance or guidance, adequately trained staff, and failed to warn of dangers or hazards in the passenger boarding bridge.

“We believe something in that jet bridge caused it to eject,” said Robert Solomon, the family attorney.

Southwest Airlines released a statement Tuesday in response to the lawsuit.

“Southwest Airlines’ top priority is the safety of our employees and customers, both on the ground and in the air. We reviewed the customer’s first report of her travel experience and offered a direct response to those involved,” company spokesman Chris Perry said in an email to Local 10 News. “Southwest will continue to work with the customer and other stakeholders to investigate and address the facts and circumstances surrounding her travel experience. Southwest has spent more than 51 years caring for our employees and customers and will continue to do so.”

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The Assouline family has one GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.

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https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/07/05/family-sues-southwest-airlines-over-fall-at-fort-lauderdale-airport/ Family sues Southwest Airlines over fall at Fort Lauderdale airport

Sarah Y. Kim

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