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Passenger sues Southwest Airlines over hot tea spill

By Aaron Cooper, CNN
September 26, 2012 -- Updated 2037 GMT (0437 HKT)
A woman is suing Southwest Airlines and a flight attendant for $800,000 for serving tea she says severely burned her.
A woman is suing Southwest Airlines and a flight attendant for $800,000 for serving tea she says severely burned her.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Woman suffered second-degree burns, is permanently scarred, lawyers say
  • Southwest does not have trays in front rows, which contributed to the accident, suit says
  • "We safely serve about 100 million drinks onboard every year," Southwest says

Washington (CNN) -- A Tennessee woman sued Southwest Airlines and a flight attendant Tuesday for $800,000 for serving tea she says severely burned her.

On December 28, 2011, Angelica Keller was seated in the window seat of the front row on Flight 955 between Nashville and Houston with a stop in New Orleans.

She ordered hot tea, and the suit says the flight attendant brought her a cup of "extremely hot water" sitting in another cup which contained the tea bag and condiment packets.

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In the "plaintiffs efforts to extricate the tea bag from its position of being wedged between the tilted paper 'hot cup' of extremely hot water and the shorter clear plastic soft drink cup, the extremely hot water spilled into her lap at her groin area," the suit said.

Keller's body suffered second degree burns and her skin blistered, peeled and she was permanently scarred, the lawyers said.

"Our Customers' comfort is our top priority at all times, and we safely serve about 100 million drinks onboard every year," Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said in a statement. "The referenced event is unfortunate, and we are currently reviewing it. We can't provide additional details due to the pending lawsuit that was filed."

Southwest does not have tray tables in the front rows of its aircraft, and Keller's suit said that contributed to the accident.

It also said the airline served the drink in an unreasonable manner and used "hot water at a temperature too hot for use in an aircraft."

Mainz was unable to provide the standard temperature of the water on Southwest flights, but said it has never been an issue in the past.

The suit, filed Tuesday, seeks $300,000 for property damages, medical bills, injuries and pain and suffering as well as $500,000 in punitive damages.

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