Very Sound Sleeper Files Failure-to-Wake Claim Against United Airlines

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Ginger McGuire, who is either a very sound sleeper or was extremely tired, is suing United Airlines for allegedly failing to wake her up after her flight landed in Philadelphia this week.  McGuire says that she fell asleep during the flight, and did not wake up until a cleaning crew found her on the plane four hours after it landed.

Based on this report, and the news clip below in which McGuire tells her not-very-harrowing story, when McGuire did wake up she was still not allowed to get off the plane.  She says that police were called instead, and that they subjected her to some stern questioning about who she was and what she was doing on the plane at 4 in the morning:

Represented by Geoffrey Fieger, she is suing United for false imprisonment, emotional distress, and negligence.

Now, it does seem odd that nobody noticed Ginger sleeping on the plane, although not quite as odd as the fact that Ginger slept through the landing and all the de-boarding activity.  (Fieger tries to blame the airline for that, too, saying they had bumped her from an earlier flight.)  And it does seem like the flight attendants should have a duty to check the plane out, just in case.  Further, the bad attitude displayed by the Philly police also seems unnecessary, although maybe not unexpected.  Still, a lawsuit?  Really?

It is hard to see there being much in the way of damages to seek here.  Personally, if this happened to me (and I can see this kind of thing happening to me), I would suffer emotional distress but almost entirely due to embarrassment about finding myself stuck on a plane because I slept through the landing.  (It's not like Ginger was trapped on there for days, and she admits she had her cell phone with her and so could have called for help, had the cleaning crew not found her.)  And any damages due to that would really be offset by (1) the extra four hours of sleep I was able to get and (2) the ability to tell a funny trapped-on-the-plane story, even if I was not entirely blameless in that story.  So, given those tradeoffs, I think maybe she owes United money.

Link: WXYZ (Detroit) via Yahoo