Woman Deafened by Screaming Child, Wins Lawsuit

Screaming Child Causes Deafness, LawsuitIt sounds like an urban legend, but it isn’t: a child sitting on an airplane screamed so loudly that the sound caused deafness in a woman sitting next to him. She sued the airline for failing to protect her health and safety—and won.

We’re not kidding. It actually happened in Australia. An American tourist named Jean Barnard boarded a Qantas flight from Alice Springs to Darwin. Across the aisle sat a three-year-old boy.

Before the plane took off, the boy suddenly leaned over, and screamed at the top of his lungs.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the trauma to Mrs. Barnard was so great that blood began to pour from her ears. She was in severe pain and was rushed to the local hospital. Though no one else was injured in the incident, Mrs. Barnard suffered a total hearing loss.

She has been in a legal battle with Qantas ever since 2009, when the event took place. Mrs. Barnard argued that she should be compensated not only for the loss of her hearing, but also for the pain and suffering and for loss of income and doctor and hospital bills.

She claimed that Qantas was negligent in failing to prevent such an accident. Qantas argued that there was no way to predict that the child would behave in this manner, or that the results would be so severe, especially since the boy had not shown any signs of screaming beforehand. The airline also claimed that the plaintiff’s hearing was already damaged, and that she had been wearing hearing aids which amplified the sound.

The two parties settled out of court last week. Details of the settlement have been kept private.

One Response to “Woman Deafened by Screaming Child, Wins Lawsuit”

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    28 Jul 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Wow. Imagine being the kid and living knowing you did that.

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