Jewish Family Sues Southwest Airlines Over Crippling Injuries to Daughter

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FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2020 file photo, a worker uses a flashlight to inspect an engine on a Boeing 737 Max 8 built for Southwest Airlines at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. A flight attendant for Southwest Airlines lost two teeth when she was attacked by a passenger this weekend, according to her union president, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

SOUTH FLORIDA (VINnews) A Jewish family is suing Southwest Airlines, after their disabled daughter was thrown from her wheelchair while boarding a flight, leaving her with life-altering injuries

According to the lawsuit, this past winter, 25-year-old Gaby Assouline was boarding Southwest Flight 1002 in Ft. Lauderdale, heading to Denver to visit her sister.

Gaby’s electric wheelchair hit a junction in the jet bridge, causing her to be thrown from the wheelchair, leading to severe injuries that left her quadriplegic and forced her to use a ventilator.

At age 12, Gaby was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that made it difficult to walk long distances but otherwise allowed her to be highly functional.

Gaby’s mother, Sandra, said the last time she saw her daughter before the accident was when she dropped her off at the gate. Special accommodations were made so that she could accompany her daughter past security. The pair were smiling and even took a selfie.

“The next thing I got was a call [saying] my daughter was involved in an accident and she broke her neck,” Sandra Assouline said.

“It’s unfathomable, I just think about it,” Felix Assouline, Gaby’s father, said.

Here is an excerpt from a GoFundMe page set up for Gaby by her Mom:

I got a call from the officer at the scene that she had suffered a devastating fall in the airport and was being rushed to the Intensive Care Unit. Nothing could prepare me for seeing my daughter in that hospital bed, unconscious, with that many tubes attached to her, helping stabilize her. Throughout that first week, we pieced together parts of what happened. Gaby fell on her head, fractured her C2 vertebrae, resulting in a severe spinal cord injury. She had a cardiac arrest and had to be intubated immediately after being resuscitated.

She’s currently presenting as a quadriplegic who is on a ventilator.

She can’t speak because has a tube down her throat, and she has no movement below her neck. The fear and pain she is showing in her eyes when she wakes up in those brief moments of clarity is too much to bear. She remains in the hospital. Since her injury, she has developed an arrhythmia that has caused her heart to stop half a dozen times in a week. It’s been almost three weeks and there is no timeline for how long she will be here or what her journey looks like after. Every day, a new complication arises.

The lawsuit claims that Southwest Airlines and its contractor were careless and, among other things, failed to provide proper wheelchair assistance or instruction, failed to adequately train staff and failed to warn of hazards or dangers in the jet bridge.

“We believe something in that jet bridge caused her to be ejected,” the family’s attorney said.

The Assouline family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.

Please daven for Gaby, whose hebrew name is Chaya Gabrielle Messouda bas Sarah.


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