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Family Sues After Stowaway Teen Fell Out of Airplane Wheel

While this lawsuit is happening in Charlotte, North Carolina, the bizarre events leading up to this case took place in Boston. At least partially.

Boston was where the teen's body was found. The teen is the subject of this wrongful death lawsuit, as his body fell out of a plane that was Boston-bound, back in 2010.

Sounds like a straightforward airplane negligence lawsuit, doesn't it?

Not so fast. The boy didn’t fall out of a plane where he was the passenger. He fell out off the wheel of the Boeing 747. At this stage, you might be saying “huh?”

So let’s get into some background. The teen, Delvonte Tisdale, was hiding in the wheel of the plane. He climbed into the wheel well and died. Now, his parents are bringing a lawsuit against the city of Charlotte, US Airways, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and America West.

The lawsuit is claiming negligence as the underlying claim in the wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants were negligent when they failed to follow applicable guidelines and inspect checkpoints to ensure that children would be kept out of the restricted areas.

But wait— the boy was not technically a “child.”

Well, at least not in the sense that extra precaution would need to be taken to keep him out of such a hazardous area. After all, a teen should have known that the wheel of a plane wasn’t a safe place to hide. Tisdale was a runaway, according to The Associated Press. His body was found on November 15 in a Boston suburb.

Moving back to the idea of negligence— the concept of negligence entails a duty owed to another. And the fact that Tisdale was a stowaway partially negates that duty, since they didn’t even know he was on the plane, let alone on the wheel well of the plane.

That’s why the parents used the “attractive nuisance” approach to the lawsuit. But this claim might fail, since in order to invoke it, the property owner needs to have reasonable belief that a child could come on to the property.

After all, who imagines a child jumping a fence and hiding in an airplane wheel?

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