Woman Sues Qantas Airline After Screaming Child Makes Her Deaf

A 67-year-old American woman traveling in Australia last year has sued Qantas, because she says a screaming baby on board one of their flights made her deaf. Now before shake your head, what she describes in her suit is pretty horrific: “The boy allegedly leaned back over his armrest toward [her] and let out a scream so severe that blood erupted from her ears, leaving her ‘stone cold deaf’.” On the other hand, Qantas maintains that it has no way of predicting when a child might scream, since children naturally do that sort of thing.

For some reason Qantas released an email the woman wrote to a travel agent after her return, I guess to imply that she hates children. Well, yeah, children who scream until your ears bleed. From her email:

I guess we are simply fortunate that my eardrum was exploding and I was swallowing blood. Had it not been for that, I would have dragged that kid out of his mother’s arms and stomped him to death. Then we would have an ‘international incident’.

The airline and the woman have reached a confidential settlement and won’t discuss the lawsuit now.

“Screaming child lands Qantas in court after sending woman deaf” [News.com.au] (Thanks to Dean!)

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  1. Sockatume says:

    According to the article, they have reached a confidential settlement.

  2. Slave For Turtles says:

    I’m not sure why this is the airline’s problem. Isn’t it up to the parents of the shrieker to take responsibility? I mean, if my precious tot trips some old woman in a grocery store, it’s not the store’s fault.

    For those who won’t read the article, the victim was helped off the plane and to a hospital. She says her eardrum was burst and that she was swallowing blood and in a huge amount of pain.

    I hate shriekers. Anecdotally in my life, they’ve all been little boys, never girls. I wonder why.

    • TheUncleBob says:

      I have to agree – why is this the airline’s fault? Why isn’t she suing this child’s parents? Unless the child was flying as an unaccompanied minor…

      • Scuba Steve says:

        She’s suing someone she believes has some portion of responsibility in the incident that has deep enough pockets to handle a settlement.

        I’m sure if she sued the kid’s parents, she could win the case, get damages, and not see a dime of it before her 80th birthday.

        I’m not saying its right, its just how lawsuits are handled.

        That’s why rich people get sued so much.

      • KnowledgeIsPower says:

        The parents are clearly primarily responsible.

        However, the airline does have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their passengers. Its not as though you can just walk away from the screaming child when you’re stuck in an assigned seat.

        One of the reasons the law makes the airline responsible here is because if it *wasn’t*, then it would have even less incentive to help keep passengers safe from harm. The airline is also in a better position than this woman to fix the screaming child problem if the parents are being irresponsible.

        Finally, as someone else noted, the airline CAN recover their costs from the parents who aren’t controlling their child.

      • Bob says:

        That’s the state of civil law in many countries today. The plaintiffs lawyer must be a advocate and to do so with the proper vigor he/she MUST sue all of the parties involved and then let the court sort out the matter. The airline knew if has a case against the suit but they didn’t want the fight. That’s why many companies just settle out of court.

      • Griking says:

        It’s not the airlines fault. My guess however is that some greedy lawyer decided that they can sue and get more money from the airline than they can get from the brats parents.

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          It’s not necessarily greed, although I’d tend to agree. My friend’s involved in a lawsuit for medical bills against someone that hit them while her friend was driving. They are also suing the friend that’s driving because it has to be proven that her friend was at no fault at all before they can sue the person that was actually at fault. Because common sense isn’t enough anymore, all parties have to be ruled out before you actually target the jerk who did it. They have to wait for a judge to say it wasn’t her friend’s fault at all so it solely becomes the other person’s responsibility.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Replying to the shriekers comment, my experience is more girls than boys. My two nieces are prime examples of potential eardrum bursters. The boys I have been around (including my own), just have not been able to generate both the volume AND the pitch that the girls can do.

    • kristinabeana says:

      I have a little boy – 16 months old tomorrow -, if he had done this the fault would have layed with us and I do not think there is a way we could ever apologize enough. However, I do not have the nearly the same amount of cash as Quantas.

      He is going through a stage right now where he tries to mimic every single sound he hears – lawn mowers, the dishwasher, the elephants in his book that makes jungle sounds. He would totally try to make the sound of a jet engine… and that would not end well for anyone. Barring any unforeseen emergencies, he will not fly anytime in the near future, so you all are safe from him for now.

      • NumberSix says:

        How would that have been your fault? There would be no way you could know when a toddler would unleash something like that. Certainly no way you could have prevented it if you did not have a seat for him.

        • Fidget says:

          Fault being a legal-ish term here, not necessarily a moral one. No, you can’t stop the kid, but if your kid breaks something in a store, you pay for it. If your kid breaks someone’s eardrums, you pay for it. It’s called being a responsible parent.

        • wackydan says:

          In my experience, screaming out of control children are not a simple moment in time thing. It is quite likely that the kid has done it before and will do it again. It is not to say that the child has bad parents, but fair enough to say that they could do better to control the behavior.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          It doesn’t matter if you could predict it. Your kid just completely ruined the rest of someone’s life. If your tire explodes and you veer off the road, hitting and killing someone, you still pay a penalty for it.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          Well, if he’s ever done it before, you could have disciplined him in some way to stop him doing it again. I agree if it’s the first time he’s ever shrieked, but let’s be realistic.

          I don’t get parents who just let their kids shriek for the sake of shrieking. How do they know when the kid’s fallen and broken a leg, if he shrieks constantly. I told a man on the bus once that his son shrieking–just sitting in the seat and shrieking as high and as loud as possible every few seconds just for the sake of shrieking–was making my head hurt, and he looked at me, said “I’m sorry,” and did not one thing to even attempt to stop the kid. He just went back to looking out the window and ignoring him.

          I don’t believe that parents are completely powerless to stop this. Mine weren’t.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Devil’s advocate here since so many people are saying it’s really no one’s fault: what are the odds that this kid was quietly and calmly sitting still and then jumped up to let loose that wail?

      I am going to make a wild guess that this kid was causing problems already (thus the woman’s desire to stomp him; that reaction usually takes some working up). I’m not saying that the airline could have known that this would happen, but they very likely were aware that a child was going nuts. Personally, I know it costs money, but there should be a larger bathroom or something that can double as a calm location for a parent to soothe such a child. Less chaos for the kid and fewer headaches for everyone else.

    • MishunAcomplisht says:

      This brings up a good point. Any passenger should be able to request the flight attendant to have the police waiting at the gate to apprehend any other passenger causing them injury or at least to require ID so they can sue them for money damages. I like it. I’ve wanted to sue parent passengers with unruly kids almost every time I’ve flown.

  3. godlyfrog says:

    I don’t see how the airline is at fault; short of mandatory straight jackets and muzzles. A scream takes only a few seconds to perform, and there’s no way the airline could have prevented it.

    I feel for the woman, but it’s obvious that she’s only suing the airline because the child’s parents wouldn’t have nearly enough money to cover what she’s asking for.

    • Snoofin says:

      They couldve prevented it by not letting kids fly on their planes at all, which would make me their most loyal customer.

    • Tallanvor says:

      Ooh, what a great idea! All children under the age of 10 must be transported in straight jackets and muzzles…

      That’s an airline I would use!

    • RxDude says:

      “mandatory straight jackets and muzzles”

      Problem solved.

  4. dbeahn says:

    From the article: “I would have dragged that kid out of his mother’s arms and stomped him to death. Then we would have an ‘international incident’”

    Wow, deaf lady sounds like a real peach! Wonder if it was just karma punching her in the face?

    • katstermonster says:

      Dude, her eardrums freaking BURST. I’m pretty sure that earns her a well-placed violence against children joke.

      • JollyJumjuck says:

        Plus it was an “alleged” email, from Qantas’ legal team. Who knows if it’s real?

        dbeahn: What about “karma” doing something to the child? I’m guessing “karma” is too fucking lazy to ever punish that kid.

        • jason in boston says:

          /me thinks that people need to learn the definition of Karma. It’s the next life. Not this one.

          Not that I believe in any of that wizardry.

          • dbeahn says:

            AFAIK, Karma is actually more fluid than that – things from past lives can come back to bite you in this life, and things from this life can get passed to the next, but there’s nothing I’ve ever seen the the Buddhist concept of Karma and vipaka that says it only passes directly to the next life.

        • grapedog says:

          Karma has a way of coming back around. Maybe in 11 years, he’ll be wicked fat and required to take up 2 seats on a Southwest flight and be publically humiliated about his inability at 14, to control his weight to any sort of degree.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Shouldn’t karma be punching the kid in the face? He’s the one that actually made someone go deaf.

      I find it hard to believe that if someone screamed in your ear loud enough to make them bleed that you wouldn’t be angry about it.

    • Smashville says:

      You don’t understand the definition of “karma”, do you?

      • dbeahn says:

        I do understand the definition of karma. Any person that would say out loud that they’d “stomp to death” a small child is probably not going to have good karma.

        • Smashville says:

          The child already blasted out here eardrum.

          Or did you miss that part of the story. Being stomped to death would be the child’s karma.

    • hmburgers says:

      The kid is 3… at 3 you know enough not to scream in someone’s ear, but you’re also small enough that you parents ought to be physically in charge of you at all times…

      I’d have stomped that little fucker too.

    • Wolfbird says:

      As much as I like children and small fuzzy animals, I think that if one of them permanently disabled one of my 5 senses I think I might be a little angry and irrational, too.

  5. iParadox{InLove} says:

    I would have screamed back at him.

    From the Article: “I would have dragged that kid out of his mother’s arms and stomped him to death. Then we would have an ‘international incident’”

    I like this lady!

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      I like her too —- I probably would have slapped the child, and been sued by his parents.

  6. kylere1 says:

    The airline should sue the parents for recovery. Bad parenting should be punished.

    • ellemdee says:

      Because only the child of bad parents would ever scream, especially if they are only 3 years old.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        My child is seven and she never had a public tantrum (rarely even at home), shrieked, or screamed in public. If you are vigilant, they can be taught at a very early age how to behave in public. My child is a sassy little pistol, but she has always known better than to do something like that.

        I get tired of parents using the term, but he’s only (insert age here.) Infants are hard to control, but a three-year-old? Not so much.

        • RayanneGraff says:

          Exactly. My baby sister is 6 and she never acted like that. Kids that act like that often have permissive parents that walk on eggshells around the brat & never say NO or STOP IT, lest they hurt the child’s feelings. If my sister ever DARED try to scream bloody murder in public like that she knows she’d get the living shit spanked out of her. She threw ONE tantrum with me a couple years ago and lets just say it’s the LAST one she ever threw. And I’m still her favorite family member :) Which is good, cause I’m the only one in my family that actually punishes her when she acts like an idiot.

          Goes to show that disciplining a child doesn’t hurt them or make them hate you(for more than half an hour anyway lol), but actually makes them- GASP- respect you and behave!

          • brinks says:

            I still remember my one public tantrum. I was around 4, so it was around 1980, and my mom smacked my ass HARD in front of a bunch of onlookers. Never did that again.

            If a mom does that now, though, the cops will be there in minutes.

            You can’t tolerate child abuse…but I’m just sayin’…one time worked for me.

      • Jack Doe says:

        I have a three year old. She does scream. When she does, I make her stop. I would not allow her to scream to such a degree as to rupture someones eardrum. Parents should have to pay Quantas in this case.

      • Smashville says:

        If your child permanently disables someone through his shitty behavior, then yes, you have failed as a parent.

      • MishunAcomplisht says:

        Why can’t we just have duct tape or sound proof muzzles on all kids? And yes, another FEE to the parents to buy it and use it too.

  7. katstermonster says:

    That woman’s email made me laugh so hard.

  8. HungryGal says:

    “Qantas mqaintains tqhat iqt hqas nqo wqay of pqredicting wqhen a cqhild mqight sqcream, sqince cqhildren nqaturally dqo tqhat sqort oqf tqhing.”

    Fixed.

  9. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Quantas never crashed.

  10. iParadox{InLove} says:

    Quick, someone get that old man that was punching kids in walmart, stat!

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      My FIRST thought when I read this article: “And we wonder why old people go around punching kids in the back of the head in Walmart”

  11. Akuma Matata says:

    Misguided lawsuit, and the airline settled because it wasn’t worth the fight. Another reason why this country’s court system is screwed up and how a loser-pays system would help.

    • Akuma Matata says:

      nevermind… for some reason I thought this took place in the US, so scratch my 2nd sentence from the record

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        It’s OK. We are used to rants not based on facts or the exact opposite thereof around here. Many people try to shoehorn in an opinion just for the heck of it. That’s why I reccomend the Shoedini.

        • Mr. Pottersquash says:

          “loser-pays” wouldnt help anything. If Quantas ever went to trial on something like this, their legal fees would probably be enough to bankrupt the elderly, now disabled woman if she lost so they would probably never get fully paid. Loser-pays would probably lead to even more lawsuits as defense lawyers would push hard for a settlement where they know theyll get paid instead of winning inwhich their client will point to the defeated plaintiff and say “get it from them”

          • Akuma Matata says:

            Well it would have given the person filing the lawsuit pause. If she sued the wrong entity, and clearly she did, and lost, she’d have legal bills to pay. It’s not a silver bullet, but it would help eliminate frivolous lawsuits that are filed simply to get money out of a person or corporation.

            • RvLeshrac says:

              Then you’d only have lawsuits from people who know with absolute certainty that they’d win. This means that only those who have the money to drag a court case on for a near-infinite amount of time would ever file.

        • Sian says:

          It’s especially fun on Opposite Day!

      • backbroken says:

        If you would have just pretended you were from Australia, you could have avoided this embarrassing retraction.

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        From the article: “for a civil lawsuit she filed against Qantas in the US District Court in LA.”

    • Destron says:

      Agreed – it happens all the time. The company knows it would win in a court battle, but with all the time and expense that would go in to it then it’s usually cheaper to just settle to shut them up and move on. Sad part is that they are just enabling people to do this to them.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      A loser pays system would guarantee that the rich, who could afford better lawyers, would almost always win. It would also prevent the poorer people from even attempting to seek redress for when they are wronged.

    • Daemon Xar says:

      Alaska is loser-pays. So are most commonwealth countries. Take a look at the state of their legal systems before you decide that loser-pays would be a great thing.

  12. John B says:

    And Qantas is liable exactly HOW…?

  13. vastrightwing says:

    Screaming children section anyone? Children are the new peanuts of the airlines industry.

    • Sian says:

      There’s some kids I’d like to see coated in molten honey and sealed in little foil bags.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Exactly. I’m deathly allergic to children with irresponsible parents.

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      agreed. I’ve always thought there should be a “Children Friendly” section…just like there used to be for Smokers (depends on your state/city/couty).

      I really don’t want to be subject to people letting their children run Rampant — I chose not to have kids to AVOID hearing screams and shrieks.

  14. jiubreyn says:

    This woman must have some sensitive ear drums, or the combination of the scream and the altitude were just a bad mix for her. :-T

  15. JohnG says:

    My “confidential” settlement would be to give her a bill for $1 million to counteract the bad publicity and tell her to get bent.

    What we have here is a “balloon boy” incident. She has a claim, but the math just doesn’t work.

    A scream did critical damage to her eardrum, causing it to break. (aka “MY KID IS IN A BALLOON!”.

    The amount of force required to burst an eardrum cannot be produced by a human being (aka “Your balloon can only life 18 pounds. Are you saying your kid weighs less than a toddler?”)

    If it was possible without any pre-existing conditions, don’t you think that more headbangers, hip-hop listeners, and car-audio enthusiasts would be having blood spewing from their ears daily?

    But that is just it, pre-exising condition. Oh, she had that (http://www.bangkoknews.net/story/661866). This is a cash-in. Plain and simple. Seems to me like a great plan, have a pre-existing condition. Wait for something direct and witnessed that can substantiate your story. Then sue and grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.

    • Ophelia says:

      Let me tell you, my kids can scream louder than I would ever listen to music, but even shrieks aimed directly into my eardrum have thusfar not broken it. (It hurts, but here I am, no ear bleeding.)

      I call shenanigans on the lady’s story. Didn’t happen the way she said.

      • watch me boogie says:

        Not all people are constructed the same. This woman was much older and already had hearing aids, so it would seem she had some ear issues already.

      • chiieddy says:

        Again, RTFA… ever hear feedback from a hearing aid when set off with a loud noise? That’s what happened here.

        Another person the lady could go after, since the rule is to go after those with the deep pockets is the medical manufacturer of the hearing aids for not putting a fail safe on the device to disconnect at a certain decibel range.

    • erratapage says:

      Or perhaps, the child screaming in her ear, plus the sound of the plane, and the air pressure of being at 30,000 feet caused her eardrum to burst. I’ve developed nasty ear infections after plane rides. This is not at all far fetched.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      What we have here is a “RTFA Situation”.

      Someone didn’t read the part about the woman wearing hearing aids, which can amplify sound to dangerous levels and increase pressure especially if it is fitted snugly in the air.

      • "I Like Potatoes" says:

        Hmmm…hearing aid lawsuit?

      • Sian says:

        I’m really more surprised that the hearing aid didn’t have cutoff circuitry to prevent dangerous levels of sound! That’s basic, basic stuff.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          Well, even so, the ramp up until the buffer kicks in can hurt. Especially if they are very snug in the ear. Then you have a speaker vibrating in a small area, which can ramp up the volume. I mean, yelling a stethoscope does nothing. But if you tap on the end while someone is wearing it, that HURTS.

      • Alexk says:

        So sue the maker of the hearing aids, which lack buffers to prevent overamplification of sound. This is absurd. I realize there’s a contingent of “kids suck! anything that gives me a chance to rant about kids is valid!” members here, but really folks–this suit is just plain stupid.

        • Smashville says:

          Can I see your law degree? Because since you’re spouting off all of your legal expertise without prefacing your horrible understanding of legal statutes without the requisite “IANAL”, I would like to know where you graduated from law school and what state’s bar exam you passed.

          • Alexk says:

            Sigh. The old “who made you an expert? I don’t like what you have to say, so you must be silent unless you prove to my satisfaction that you have a right to say something I’d rather not hear.” gambit.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      So you’re suggesting that the damage to her eardrums occurred before she got on the plane, that she was carrying around fake blood packets on the off chance that someone screamed in her ear so she could “cash-in”, and that the people at the hospital couldn’t tell that she faked it? REALLY?

    • thrillhouse says:

      Re: pre-existing conditions, read up on eggshell skull rules.

      If someone assaults me (say, screams into my ear, or shoves me over), it’s their fault, not mine, that they burst my eardrum or shatter my hip — regardless of whether I have sensitive eardrums, or brittle bones.

      This is because (a) the assault shouldn’t have happened in the first place and (b) the victim shouldn’t be blamed for circumstances outside her control.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      So, from what medical and engineering schools did you receive your respective degrees in…

      …ah, fuck it. It’s easier just to call you an idiot.

      • Alexk says:

        It may be “easier” to call him an idiot, but it is idiotic to do so. He’s right. A single scream from a child is not going to destroy a healthy eardrum. The notion that the kid’s scream is louder than the aircraft’s engines is downright dumb to begin with.

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          She’s a 67 year old woman with hearing aids. She doesn’t have “healthy” eardrums.

          • Alexk says:

            Ah, so the rest of the world has an obligation to be quieter, or she’ll sue over a completely bogus claim.

            Please. Her eardrums didn’t burst because a kid yelled. If you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land in Florida for sale, cheap.

            • pantheonoutcast says:

              Oh, I didn’t know you were both present at the incident and are in possession of the intimate details of her medical history. My mistake.

              And yes, the rest of the world does have an obligation to be quieter. Or have you not noticed how much more obnoxiously loud everyone has become? Go to a movie theater and then tell me that times they ain’t a-changin’.

              • Alexk says:

                If the rest of the world has an obligation to be quieter because you find it “obnoxious,” I must ask that you live up to your own philosophy and not irritate me with your hatred of children. Thank you for not replying! Wouldn’t want to be obnoxious, would you?

                • pantheonoutcast says:

                  Deal. You keep your loud, annoying children away from me, and I won’t tell you that they are loud and annoying.

                  • Alexk says:

                    I think you’ve lost sight of the discussion here. The issue isn’t whether you’re an old fart who finds kids annoying. It’s whether a crying child can cause your ears to burst and bleed. From an ABC News piece on this:

                    “Weigand added that humans have only ever been known to produce sound loud enough to harm another human over an extended period of time. Research has shown, he said, that women can sometimes suffer from hearing loss after sleeping with loud-snoring husbands for years.

                    “But a single scream or even a baby crying for a couple of hours is very unlikely to cause significant damage,” said Weigand.

                    And, according to evidence shown to the court by Qantas Airlines, Barnard had recently received new hearing aids in the month prior to her flight with the screaming baby. Barnard denied the hearing aids during her deposition, and her lawyer declined to comment on his client’s medical history, but one audiologist told ABCNews.com that if she did in fact have hearing aids on, the sound could have been amplified, making it that much more painful. “

                    The lady is a loon and a liar. That you hate children isn’t really relevant to this story.

                    • kujospam says:

                      I didn’t get why he didn’t understand that she had hearing aids on. I mean the story really makes sense if you have hearing aids. You can turn those suckers up really high or low. It’s the lady’s fault for having it too high, and partially the kids for screaming.

    • Daemon Xar says:

      Ever heard of the thin-skulled plaintiff rule? Maybe you ought to google it.

  16. slim150 says:

    They should partition the plane into 3 sections: First Class, Business, and Fiesta. Between the Business and Fiesta sections should be a sound reducing door. The fiesta area would be for family’s and moo cows.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Can we implement this Fiesta section in movie theaters as well? Because I would love that. haha

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        The Fiesta section should also serve chips and salsa, and perhaps tequila shots to the toddlers!

        • grapedog says:

          If the fiesta class section served tequilla shots, you really think you want to be the family with kids on that flight right around spring break time?

  17. mbbbus says:

    OK. I am a doctor. There is no way a screaming child caused eardrums to burst. Humans can’t produce enough sound pressure to burst an eardrum. Not possible. Scammer.
    And a pretty hateful person, to boot. Threatening to stomp a toddler to death is never OK.

    • watch me boogie says:

      If you’re a doctor you should know that unless you’ve examined this woman and know her medical history, you can’t make pronouncements like that.

      If this is a scam, it’s an awfully elaborate one, with lots of co-conspirators (including doctors).

      Her email was slightly startling in its vehemence but as someone else pointed out, if a kid had made my eardrum blow I’d be pretty pissed off, too.

      • mbbbus says:

        So you did see the medical record? No reference is made in the article to doctors ascertaining that the kid’s scream caused her ears to bleed.

        • watch me boogie says:

          I’m pretty sure I’m not the one calling this a scam without having been there?

        • qualia says:

          I’m sure this woman made it all the way to getting her case heard without seeing a doctor, and that you are the first person to come up to this objection, and further, several lawyers and a judge couldn’t have thought of your brilliant objections.

          Which is why they settled. Because a woman with little money and no case whatsoever makes it to a settlement SO often.

          Jeez.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        If this is a scam, it’s an awfully elaborate one, with lots of co-conspirators (including doctors).

        Heck, if this is a conspiracy I’d argue that the kid and his mom were in on it too. It makes way more sense that this idea that this lady is walking around with fake blood packets on the off chance that someone screams in her ear.

    • chiieddy says:

      As a doctor, you should RTFA are note the woman had hearing aids on.

      • mbbbus says:

        I did read the article. I just don’t believe everything I read, including 4th-hand medical reporting from a newspaper. Hearing aids don’t pop eardrums. Very high sound and or atmospheric pressure can.

        • Untidy Sanchez says:

          But the 4th hand medical reporting is good enough for you to draw conclusions? Right.

          • mbbbus says:

            We are all making educated guesses here based on limited data.

            My guess is a bit of an educated one, however. Medical school will do that.

            • rockasocky says:

              Wow, and I thought lawyers were overly self-entitled and snobby

            • pantheonoutcast says:

              “Very high sound and or atmospheric pressure can.”

              I’m curious. What equipment or instruments did you use when you made your educated diagnosis from thousands of miles away to determine the frequency of this child’s screams? You fully admit that “high sounds” can pop eardrums, and hearing aids do, in fact, magnify sound. Would it not be also logical to make an educated guess that the hearing aid increased the volume of the child’s scream to a point where her eardrum ruptured?

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          Yes, and as we all know all electronic devices are always made properly and never have defects of any kind whatsoever.

        • erinpac says:

          So everyone around her imagined the blood and the hospital trip? The plane was on the ground. Unless you’re saying the kid yelled too high instead of too loud and that’s somehow better…

    • evnmorlo says:

      Do you practice at 30000ft?

    • suez says:

      My brother yelled in my ear–granted NOT at full-child-shriek–and the hearing in that ear was affected for hours afterward. Given the conditions in a highly pressurized compartment, I do think it’s possible.

      Anyway, wouldn’t a simple physical examination be able to determine whether or not the eardrum was punctured and recently?

  18. Amy Alkon says:

    I write professionally on rudeness (I wrote the recently published book, “I SEE RUDE PEOPLE: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society”…in which I recommend Consumerist, by the way), and here’s what I wrote in an LA Times op-ed about children still in the feral stage whose parents bring them on planes:

    I do hear claims that some children are prone to tantrums no matter how exquisitely they are parented. If this describes your child, there’s a solution, and it isn’t plopping him down in a crowded metal tube with hundreds of other people who cannot escape his screams, except by throwing themselves to their death at 30,000 feet.

    Granted, there sometimes are extenuating circumstances, reasons a parent and their little hellraiser simply must take a plane. Well, actually, there are two: Dire family emergency (Granny’s actually dying, not just dying to see the little tyke) and a much-needed liver transplant for the wee screamer. In all other cases, if there’s any chance a child is still in the feral stage, pop Granny on a flight or gas up the old minivan. It really does come down to this: Your right to bring your screaming child on a plane ends where the rest of our ears begin.

    • Bob says:

      Drive across the ocean from LA to Australia? Take a boat to Australia from LA? Remember there are no more passenger ships between Australia and the US. If the little monster was flying because the family was moving to Australia (which is probably not the case, but let say that was the reason for the feral kid what with the family in the plane) how else will be feral kid go to Australia?

      If I, as an American, got transferred to Sydney, Australia, how else would I get my wife and by little monsters over to the down under with me? You stick yourself and your family in a metal tube for half a day, have lots of distractions for the kiddies, and hope that your kids will not permanently injure the other passengers. I don’t see any other way, do you?

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        You are taking the most extreme possibility and are acting like it is some kind of fact. You can make up outlandish thing you want as an example, but it doesn’t change the situation that a child broke her eardrum because he obviously wasn’t raised to respect other people.

        I have found, in general, that when I see a kid screaming in the store or elsewhere in public, the said child has also been running around the store like crazy while his mom talks on the phone not caring that her child is terrorizing the whole store. I tend to think that parents with children like that probably aren’t doing the best job. And yes, I do have a child.

        I

        • Smashville says:

          How is that “the most extreme possibility” when it is the exact situation in the article?

      • kadri says:

        In a shipping crate.

        A brief google search finds at LEAST three cruises that go from one point to another, and direct contract flights and boats can be obtained in local areas as well, so long as they get cleared by customs. And a ferry courier would have cargo space for belongings as well for folks moving from one country to another. Most likely, however, such belongings would get loaded on a container ship, or left behind. The point is, there are other ways, and if your child is a belligerent little twit, don’t put him on my plane, or he or she will be departing the plane via the vacuum-flush toilets.

    • ahecht says:

      You forgot option 3: load the kid up on antihistamines and keep him awake the night before so he sleeps through the flight.

    • GrymOne says:

      “I write professionally on rudeness”
      Really?
      Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa

      /Thanks for the laugh

    • Hypercube says:

      The funny thing is, I’ve met this “advice goddess”, and she is all smiles and charm until someone voices an opinion that differs from hers…then she drops the act and starts in immediately with rude and inappropriate ad hominem attacks.

    • MsAnthrope says:

      Perhaps you could consider adding a chapter on shameless self-promotion? Isn’t it rather gauche to veil an ad for your book under the guise of a comment?

    • Sanveann says:

      Just because a child isn’t prone to regular tantrums or screaming fits doesn’t mean he or she isn’t capable of the occasional, unpredictable tantrum or screech.

      Btw, the spamminess of your comment really undermines your message here.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      What nonsense!

      There is no reason for my daughter’s family to drive from DC to Miami when there are airplanes available to take. My 2 yo and 4 yo grandkids are great kids, but they’re still kids, and will probably be louder a few times on the flight than an adult would be. You don’t like it then you drive to wherever the heck you want to go.

    • Smashville says:

      You’re going to feel so silly when you find out how rude spamming is.

    • crunchberries says:

      Oh, I remember you. Still the same child-hating douchebag you always were, huh? Except now you’ve got a book! You must feel so special that normal internet etiquette about self-promotion doesn’t apply to you.

      • Amy Alkon says:

        I don’t hate children. I just prefer the kind who are parented. My book’s been out since November 27, 2009, and this is the first you’ve heard of it here, right? That’s because I posted from my LA Times op-ed now because it relates to the question. Do you always go around calling people “douchebags” because you don’t like some point of view they hold? Do you do that in public or just when you’re sure people can’t reach out and clock you one (I don’t do that, but other people might — and I write about this in my book: the sort of people who call names online, and why.)

    • brinks says:

      I have to admit I’m not a big fan of kids. I like peace and quiet and I am not a patient person. However, I think we all know that there is always the potential for a screaming kid to be on your plane. You roll the dice and hope it’s not the case, but families with (loud) kids have places to go, too. While this case is extreme, I don’t think it merits the removal of all kids from future flights except in your definition of an emergency.

      Oh, and quoting yourself and promoting your book on here is incredibly douchey. And impolite.

  19. cmdr.sass says:

    The first rule of frivolous lawsuits is sue the entity with the most money because they’ll probably settle.

    • watch me boogie says:

      Frivolous or not, most of the time, legal fault and actual fault are only tangentially related. He who has the most money will get sued, even if their link to the case looks like one of those freaking Billy Takes A Shortcut “Family Circus” comics.

  20. netdesign says:

    She should sue the kid’s parents, not the airline! They can’t control the kid, but the parents sure can. (I have a kid and know)

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Lady who’s become deaf to ambulance chasing lawyer: “So, who recourse should I take?”
      ACL: “Who do you think?”
      LWBD: “The parents of that monster child!”
      ACL: “And how much do you want in damages?”
      LWBD: “Millions! I’ve become deaf thanks to that hellraiser!”
      “How many millions do you think you’ll get out of the parents?”
      “Errr…”
      LAWSUIT IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
      [redacted] (plaintiff)
      vs.
      QANTAS AIRLINES Ltd (Defendant)

      I’m afraid that’s how it works.

  21. lihtox says:

    Sounds like a tragic accident. As for suing the airline, I have to wonder if it isn’t simply a matter of “whose insurance pays?” The woman is American, after all, so she might not have health insurance or it might not cover this or she might not want her rates to skyrocket or what have you. The airline presumably has insurance to cover injuries sustained while flying, and can absorb the hit on their insurance more easily.

    *Love* to see all this talk about physically abusing 3 year olds; since beating a child to a pulp does a lot more damage than showing them your penis, that would make y’all worse than pedophiles in my book.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Sounds like a tragic accident.

      …How? You think the kid didn’t scream on purpose?

      that would make y’all worse than pedophiles in my book

      Your book makes no sense. How is talking about something that would be abusive if you actually did it worse than being abusive?

  22. 339point4 says:

    One of these days I am going to take some free time and count up all the kick-the-anthill Consumerist posts about fat people and children on airplanes.

  23. Alexk says:

    Ah. So a child’s scream was so loud, the lady’s eardrums burst.

    Bull.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      As you’ve already been told, RTFA. Also, learn about how hearing aids work (and how their safety features sometimes don’t).

      • JohnG says:

        Then the lawsuit should have targeted the hearing aid manufacturer for a lousy product. The FDA should step in and blast the company hard. Yes, I said the FDA. Hearing aids are medical devices and have a metric crapton of testing and paperwork that go along with getting the FDA to allow you to release them to the public.

      • Alexk says:

        I read the article. That someone settled to shut this loonytoon up does not mean that her claims had merit.

    • Smashville says:

      We heard you the first time. You’re making my eyes bleed with your inability to RTFA.

      • Alexk says:

        Heard me the first time?

        If you were able to read a time stamp, you’d know that you just replied to the first time.

        Look, I’m sorry you’re forced to live in a world with children in it. Have you considered moving to a nice retirement home, where the nurses can say “shush, we have an old foggy here” every time someone tiptoes past your cave?

  24. ellemdee says:

    Kids cry. Kids scream. Heck, given half the airline-related stories posted here, a lot of adults would like to cry and scream when they fly (and some do). But expecting a 3-year-old to have the same self-control as an adult just isn’t reasonable, no matter how well-parented they are. The kid had probably already been at the airport for several hours and was likely bored, tired, whatever. The woman was wearing hearing aids which, depending on the type of device and setting, may have amplified the child’s scream such that her ear “heard” the sound at a decibel level beyond what the child would have been physically able to create without the amplificaiton of the hearing aid. It sounds like it was a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances.

    I’m amazed at some of the anti-parent comments on here sometimes. Irresponsible? It’s not like the parents were grocery shopping with a crying baby and had the choice of leaving the store or were letting their kid wander around unsupervised. Unless the parents had trained their child to scream in people’s ears on command, I don’t see how anyone – the parents or the airline – could have done anything to prevent the incident.

    My sister is taking a long flight soon with my 20-month-old nephew and I’m sure at some point he will get hungry or bored or tired and may cry. It’s no fun to be in a confined space with a crying child, but it’s just a fact of life that young children and babies need to fly sometimes and babies don’t stop being babies just because they’re on a plane.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Your post is well written and very true.

      The anti-kids/anit-parents people on this forum, and elsewhere, make me sick.

    • brinks says:

      I can’t disagree with anything you say. However, in a freak accident like this, don’t you think it’s ultimately the fault of the parents?

  25. mobiuschic42 says:

    The thing that irks me most about this whole thing is that this woman claims “my life came to an end January 16, 2009″. Jesus christ, lady. In no way does being deaf (and only in one ear) end your life. You should be able to carry on. I’m deaf in one ear, my mother and sister are both deaf in both, thousands of deaf and hearing impaired people get along just fine.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Yes, being deaf would have absolutely no effect on one’s life whatsoever. It’s merely an inconvenience, like a mosquito bite or a rock in your shoe.

  26. nerble says:

    No matter what happened re : medical stuff. The airline is not to blame. Go after the parents who clearly suck at life.

  27. jaredwilliams says:

    haha i would have stomped the kid out too. little bastard

  28. stock2mal says:

    Hopefully she sues the mother and settles as well, resulting in the child actually being stomped to death. Win-win.

  29. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Mmmm…I’m going to Print this story and bring it to every g–d Restaurant which may harbor screaming children. Finally, a legal recourse against a screaming baby — we all knew it could cause you to go Deaf– 20/20 did stories about that way back in the day.

  30. Raanne says:

    The kid-hating is just an extension of the “precious snowflake” mentality – the idea that your kids (or usually your “future potential kids”) will be perfectly behaved, and it must be everyone else doing everything wrong that would ever cause a 3 year old to misbehave.

    The idea that the world revolves around you and you should never be inconvenienced puts you at the exact same mentality level as that 3-year-old. the only difference is that the 3-year-old has an excuse.

  31. DanGarion says:

    Doesn’t it seem like the wrong person was sued? Shouldn’t it be the parents of the child that are sued?

  32. brandymb says:

    Aliens. Kids are born, all of them, knowing one word: scream. Parents dont control them and that makes it worse. And to be stuck in an unescapable small enclosed space, is torture..