As Jonathan Turley reports today, "[p]eople with allergies are legitimately outraged this week by the decision of Northwest Airlines to re-introduce peanuts to its flights despite the large number of kids and adults with severe allergies to the snack."
Given that there are other snacks available that do not pose such a danger to passengers and that it is widely known that millions of Americans are allergic to peanuts, the decision to continue to serve peanuts is incredible. American Airlines stopped using peanuts years ago (they serve pretzels instead-- although these days I am not sure they serve anything at all anymore, but that is another story). Turley reports that
"[t]he airline insists that “We’ll create a buffer zone of three rows in front of and three rows behind your seat. We’ll also advise cabin service to board additional nonpeanut snacks, which will allow our flight attendants to serve these snack items to everyone within this area.” Forgive me for being doubtful. It is often hard to even get a seat on airplanes. I would be interested to see who the airline will accommodate millions of passengers needing a “buffering zone,” as opposed to saying that they will have to take another flight. More importantly, the risk remains that there will be exposure to peanuts in the bathroom, seat armrests, seat trays etc. I remain surprised that airlines have not been held negligent over the use of this snack, which is clearly preferred because it is a cheap option. For the full story, click here."
I could not agree more. One time when my boy was 1 or 2 years old a flight attendant who thought he was cute pinched his ckeeks. In a matter of minutes his face had turned red and developed a terrible rash. By the time the plane landed we had to shoot him full of medicine to prevent him from getting really sick... and his allergy was not even that severe (which is why he eventually outgrew it). It is not a stretch to say that a severely allergic child could have died. Assuming a kid does die under similar circumstances, couldn't the plaintiffs prove the level or risk, the number of people at risk, and the low cost of avoiding it.... Couldn't they build a good negligence case? Assuming they can show that the executives who made the decision knew of the risk and decided to go ahead anyway, could they support a plea for punitives....?