A woman is suing United Continental Holdings Inc. after she was badly burned by a cup of coffee during a flight form Madrid to Newark in 2011.
Lourdes Cervantes is from Harris County, and filed a lawsuit last week which detailed the incident she said took place while she was flying on a Continental flight. This was before the two airlines merged into one.
A flight attendant placed a coffee on Cervantes' tray table during the flight when a passenger in front of Cervantes reclined their chair. This led to the coffee sliding and falling onto the woman's legs.
Cervantes' attorney, Shaw Clifford, said the woman "suffer[ed] quite a bit of pain."
"What made it even worse is that Ms. Cervantes has multiple sclerosis, so when the coffee spilled on her she couldn't get up. She just had to sit there and take it."
Cervantes said she received second-degree burns to her inner thighs which required medical treatment. It also left her with permanent scars.
She is now suing United Continental for $170,550, which is the maximum compensation allowed under a 1999 treaty called Montreal Convention.
The Montreal Convention protects victims of air accidents on international flights, allowing them to be compensated for physical or emotional injuries.
"This is a treaty the United States and several other countries entered into to regulate international flights so there would be one set of rules," Clifford said.
It requires victims to prove injury by accident. Clifford said it is a "lesser standard of proof than a negligent standard of proof. So all we have to prove is an accident, and as a result of that accident she suffered injuries and damages."
Her lawyer is asking for a jury trial. The airline, meanwhile, has not commented on the litigation.