Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Four Los Angeles teachers filed a lawsuit against Delta Air Lines after a passenger jet en route to China dropped fuel over several schools in the area, injuring at least 60 people.
The teachers say they are entitled to compensatory damages due to emotional anguish and distress.
Delta representative Adrian Gee said Delta Flight 89, which departed from Los Angeles International Airport, en route to Shanghai with 149 passengers aboard, was forced to turn around "shortly after takeoff," because it "experienced an engine issue," and the jet fuel was dumped to "reduce landing weight."
But the teachers, who have not been named, argued the airline was negligent in allowing the plane's departure.
Furthermore, the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleged air traffic personnel "specifically asked" the Delta pilot if he needed to dump fuel and the pilot allegedly replied "negative."
"We've got it under control," the pilot said, according to the filing.
Attorney Gloria Allred said the pilot would have been directed to a safe location and altitude to drop the jet fuel had he properly alerted air traffic personnel.
Instead, the fuel dumped at around 2,000 feet, hitting several schools.
As a result, 44 patients from four elementary schools, including Park Avenue Elementary, Tweedy Elementary, Graham Elementary and San Gabriel Avenue Elementary, were evaluated and released with minor injuries though no one was hospitalized, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Another 16 people from Jordan High School and 93rd Elementary were also treated after being exposed to jet fuel.
The teachers in the lawsuit are from Park Avenue Elementary School in south Los Angeles County, about 17 miles from Los Angeles International Airport.
Allred said the teachers could feel fuel on their clothing, skin and eyes and it caused them to feel dizzy and nauseous and their students screamed and cried.
"They also suffered severe emotional distress from the knowledge that they had involuntarily ingested toxins," Allred said. "Their severe emotional distress includes the reasonable fear that the exposure to an ingestion of jet fuel might produce serious health consequences in the future."