Wheelchair-Bound Woman Injured While Boarding Flight Has Died a Year Later

February 2, 2023
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One year after a Florida woman was paralyzed while trying to board a Southwest Airlines flight in Fort Lauderdale, she has died. Her family’s lawsuit against the airline and a staffing company continues.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper and other news outlets reported that Gabrielle Assouline, died Jan. 22 after almost a year in the hospital following the well-publicized accident. Assouline, 25 at the time, was in a wheelchair and was attempting to board a flight to see her sister in February 2022.

The wheelchair, reportedly guided by an assistant hired by Southwest, encountered a gap or junction in the jetbridge leading to the aircraft, according to the lawsuit complaint filed in Broward County Circuit Court. Assouline was thrown from her chair, resulting in a neck injury and paralysis from the neck down, the complaint said.

The woman had suffered from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a genetic bone and tissue disease and was hoping to demonstrate her independence by taking the trip.

The multi-million-dollar lawsuit alleges that Southwest’s assistance to Assouline was negligent and careless, and that the airline and G2 Secure Staff failed to properly train employees on wheelchair assistance or warn of hazards. G2 is based in Texas and provides a range of aviation services, including passenger assistance.

In its answer to the complaint, Southwest said that the woman was offered assistance but that she declined. The company has denied the allegations in the complaint.

In a statement to local news outlets, a Southwest spokesperson said this week that it offers sincere condolences to the Assouline family.

Southwest faces at least one other lawsuit for a similar accident at the Orlando airport, the family’s attorney told the Daily Business Review news outlet.

Southwest is self-insured, according to news reports. Information about G2’s liability insurer was not available.

Topics Aviation

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