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A federal lawsuit filed against American Airlines is alleging that contaminated airline food killed Othon Cortes. On a flight from Spain to New York, the 73-year-old Miami resident consumed a chicken meal. During a layover at JFK International, he fell ill.
Despite stomach cramps, he and his wife boarded the flight to Miami. Once on board, he suffered from nausea and shortness of breath and eventually a heart attack. He was pronounced dead on arrival. His family is now asking for $1 million.
The lawsuit claims that the chicken was contaminated with Clostridium perfingens bacteria, reports CNN. It further claims that the contamination was the result of American Airlines' failure to property maintain or prepare the food.
It's unclear where the chicken came from, as the suit may wrongly accuse caterer Sky Chefs of being involved. A spokesperson for the company told CNN that it did not cater the flight.
It's also unclear whether Othon Cortes underwent an autopsy and if other people onboard got sick. This information will be vital to determining whether the airline food killed the man. Plaintiffs will need this evidence to help connect the chicken to his death.
Plaintiffs may also have a difficult time finding evidence of negligence on the airline's part. American likely has strict food handling standards. Meals must be maintained at certain temperatures and served by a set date.
If the lawsuit makes it past settlement, we'll likely get more information on how --and if -- airline food killed Othon Cortes. And if it did, it probably won't help the wonderful reputation that the food currently holds.