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American Airlines Sued After Man Dies Following In-Flight Meal

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- As American Airlines works to revamp its business through bankruptcy restructuring, the airline faces an allegation that one of its in-flight meals killed a Florida man.

In a lawsuit filed last week, the widow and daughter of Othon Cortes say that Cortes, 73, died after consuming a contaminated chicken meal on a May 18 American Airlines flight from Barcelona to New York.

A spokesman for American Airlines said the carrier would not comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit also names the airline catering company Sky Chefs, but Sky Chefs spokeswoman Josefine Corsten said that the company did not cater that flight and is working to have the case against it dismissed.

In their complaint, Cortes’ wife Raquel and daughter Sandra allege that the food Cortes was served was contaminated with the deadly bacteria Clostridium perfingens. After landing in New York, Cortes, who was travelling with his wife, felt sharp stomach cramps, sudden thirst and other “clear outward manifestation of severe physical illness.”

Cortes’ condition grew worse after the couple boarded the next leg of their flight, from New York to Miami. According to the complaint, Cortes suffered nausea,  shortness of breath and “a cardiac event” on the Miami-bound flight. The flight made an emergency landing in Norfolk, Va., where Cortes was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit alleges that American and Sky Chefs failed to properly maintain or prepare Cortes’ meal and that the airline shouldn’t have allowed Cortes to board the Miami flight without first securing medical attention for him. Cortes’ family is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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