JetBlue passenger sues airline for $1.5 million, alleging severe burns from hot tea

A Connecticut woman is suing JetBlue for $1.5 million after she allegedly suffered extreme burns from hot tea she claims was spilled on her chest and lap during a turbulent flight. 

On May 15, Tahjana Lewis was traveling with her 5-year-old daughter on a JetBlue flight from Orlando, Florida, to Hartford, Connecticut, when flight attendants started beverage service during a bout of turbulence, according to the lawsuit filed in June. In her suit, Lewis claims that a passenger seated in the row in front of her requested a cup of hot tea, the contents of  which spilled onto Lewis as it was being served by the flight attendant, resulting in severe burns. 

Lewis is suing the New York-based carrier for negligence, arguing that JetBlue’s flight staff served water for tea and other beverages at an unreasonably hot temperature that was beyond food service standards. The flight staff also failed to properly administer first aid to Lewis after the incident happened, according to the lawsuit. 

“They did basically nothing to dissuade her pain,” Lewis’ attorney Edward Jazlowiecki told CBS MoneyWatch. 

Lewis claims she suffered severe burns on her upper chest, legs, buttocks and right arm as a result of the spill, and that some of burns will be permanently disabling and involve a great deal of pain and medical expenses.

JetBlue didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. 


The lawsuit serves as an example of how airlines are not doing enough to keep customers safe in the air, specifically during turbulence, Lewis’ attorney Edward Jazlowiecki told CBS MoneyWatch. 

“There’s a lot of turbulence out there and the airlines really don’t care about the comfort of the passengers or their safety,” Jazlowiecki said. 

Lewis’ case comes just weeks after flight turbulence led to a 73-year-old British man dying while on board a Singapore Airlines flight to Bangkok. At least 20 other passengers on that flight were treated in an intensive care unit after the flight landed. In May, a dozen people were injured during a Qatar Airways flight hit by turbulence while en route from Doha, Qatar, to Dublin, Ireland. 

Aircraft turbulence, which can range from mild bumps and jolts to dramatic changes in altitude, is caused by “atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts, or thunderstorms,” according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and is considered a normal occurrence in the airline industry. According to a 2021 National Transportation Safety Board report, deaths and serious injuries caused by turbulence are rare. 

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