Cash Landing: Woman Sues Airlines Over Turbulent Trip

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Tobias Schwarz / Reuters

We’ve all been there before: the nightmare flight. Having been delayed for four hours, you finally take your seat to find the large lady next to you really should have booked two. Meanwhile, the ‘adorable’ kid behind decides to kick your chair for however long it takes for you to require spinal surgery.

Usually the extent of our umbrage is to give the airline a “less than satisfactory” score on a feedback card. But a woman from Lubbock, Texas has decided to up the game somewhat.

(LIST: 20 Reasons to Hate the Airlines)

Colleen O’Neal is suing Continental Airlines and three other carriers over mental trauma she said she experienced during a turbulent flight, reports the Houston Chronicle. The Texas Department of Safety employee alleges that her flight from College Station to Houston on Oct. 29, 2009, took off despite reports of tornadoes and thunderstorms in the region.

The 45-minute flight took over two hours due to turbulence and the suit alleges the plane “fell repeatedly, and felt as if it had lost power and was falling out of the sky.”

O’Neal claims has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and fears flying, having “believed she was going to die” on the flight. In addition, the Texan claims her aversion to air travel has prevented her from taking up a job at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the role would require her to fly.

O’Neal bought the ticket from Continental, but is also suing United Airlines (which merged with Continental last year), as well as flight operator Colgan Air and its owner, Pinnacle Airlines. O’Neal is suing all four for physical and mental anguish, medical bills and the cost of the lawsuit.

Continental and Pinnacle officials said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

Jak Phillips is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @JakPhillips. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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