Verdict Pending in Lawsuit Over 2011 Guyana Plane Crash

A federal judge is considering whether an airline should pay damages to a Connecticut woman injured in a plane crash in Guyana in 2011.

Judge Michael Shea in Hartford presided over a three-day, nonjury trial earlier this month in a lawsuit by Waterbury resident Indrawatie Shiwbodh against Caribbean Airlines. The judge is expected to rule sometime after Feb. 9, when final briefs are due.

Shiwbodh, formerly of East Haven, was among 157 passengers and six crew members on a Boeing 737 that overshot the runway and broke in half at Cheddi Jagan International Airport on July 30, 2011. No one died, but dozens were injured. The flight originated from Kennedy Airport in New York.

Investigators concluded that coordination between the captain and co-pilot broke down as the plane landed, and that the pilots failed to reduce excess power during landing and did not use the plane’s full deceleration capabilities.

The airline has settled all other claims in lawsuits filed in connection with the crash by more than 150 other passengers, including Shiwbodh’s husband and adult daughter, said John Maggio, a New York-based lawyer for Caribbean Airlines. Terms of the settlements are confidential and the airline has not admitted to any wrongdoing in any of the cases, he said.

Shiwbodh’s husband, Yadram, referred questions Wednesday to the couple’s lawyers, who did not return phone and email messages seeking comment.

Passengers on the plane have described how the landing initially seemed normal and there was applause that quickly turned to screams, with people and luggage being tossed about the cabin.

Documents in Indrawatie Shiwbodh’s court case say her head struck the seat in front of her, causing a laceration to her forehead that required several stitches to close. While getting out of the wreck, she had to jump off a wing about 12 feet above the ground, aggravating a lower back injury and injuring her right knee and right ankle, the documents say.

Shiwbodh also suffered “substantial” mental trauma as well as financial damages from being unable to work because of her injuries, her attorneys said. She said she has racked up more than $125,000 in medical expenses and lost more than $130,000 in income.

Lawyers for the airline said in court documents that Shiwbodh’s damages should be limited to the head wound and other injuries caused by the crash, and not the injuries that occurred after she jumped off the wing.

Source: Associated Press