A key issue in domestic toxic cabin air litigation is whether state law negligence standards apply or whether a plaintiff’s claims are preempted by federal law under the theory of implied field preemption.
One of the first issues commonly litigated is whether the case will be heard in federal or state court. Another issue many of the injured faces is the fact that “Aerotoxic Syndrome” is not an officially recognized medical diagnosis in the US Court system. However, Organophosphate Poisoning is an accepted term. The next Burden of Proof entails showing the direct cause of this type of injury in a court of law. It will remain impossible to monitor or find the root cause for toxic fume event exposures until the industry implements a monitoring system.
The New South Wales Court of Appeal’s decision in Turner was the first time a court anywhere in the world has upheld damages for adverse health effects resulting from exposure to contaminated cabin air in 1992. A former BAe 146 pilot and cabin air contamination researcher maintain that Turner was successful because she cited a single recorded fume event rather than regular prolonged exposure.
During August 2013 the Alabama Supreme Cout dismissed 11 claims of toxic air exposure from US Airways crew. Their defense of causation relied entirely upon conclusory expert opinions that the Organophosphate Poisoning was capable of causing their symptoms and injuries.
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is the only commercial aircraft that uses electrically powered compressors that direct outside air into the cabin through dedicated air inlets. Replacing bleed air systems with electric compressors could reduce fuel consumption by 1-2 percent. Airline unions and Cabin Air Quality activist groups still continue to press for legislative change for onboard cabin air chemical sensors, new engine wet seal maintenance guidelines and a return to a non-bleed air aircraft design for all future aircraft.
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