€40,000 settlement after cabin pressure drop left some Ryanair passengers with bleeding ears during emergency landing

The first in a series of compensation claims against Ryanair over injuries allegedly sustained during an emergency landing has been settled for around €40,000.

The cases arise from an incident during which an aircraft cabin became depressurised on a flight between Dublin and Zadar, Croatia.

A sudden loss of cabin pressure forced the pilots to rapidly descend.

Oxygen masks were released during the incident.

German police said 33 of 189 passengers were hospitalised, some bleeding from their ears, after the plane made an emergency landing at Frankfurt Hahn Airport on July 13, 2018.

An interim report by the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation described it as a “serious incident”.

It triggered a raft of lawsuits, and the first one to reach court was settled yesterday without any admission of liability by the airline.

The plaintiff, an Irish woman, claimed to have suffered severe pain in her ears and shock to her entire nervous system.

She claimed she ended up losing her job due to absence from work after being prescribed anti-anxiety medication.

The woman was represented by Rose Sweeney of Coleman Legal.

Eighteen other clients of the firm, residents of Ireland, Croatia and the US, have also filed legal claims against the airline.

The claims involve a mix of physical and psychological injuries and are being defended by Ryanair.

According to the pleadings in the settled case, the woman claimed to have suffered significant barotrauma to her right ear, which required steroid treatment.

She also claimed the accident caused her anxiety and stress and she developed symptoms suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder and had to attend counselling.

When the matter came before Dublin Circuit Civil Court yesterday, Judge Sarah Berkeley was told the matter had been settled.

While the settlement sum was not disclosed, the Irish Independent understands it was around €40,000, plus the plaintiff’s legal costs.

Coleman Legal declined to comment on the case.

Ryanair did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to injuries allegedly suffered, the passenger also complained of having to sit on her bag at Frankfurt Hahn for several hours, of having reduced access to fluids and no access to her hold luggage, which contained antibiotic medication she was taking at the time for urinary tract issues.

She claimed her distress was heightened by poor communication from airline staff.

In a statement at the time, Ryanair said it apologised for “any inconvenience” suffered by passengers when the flight was diverted due to “an in-flight depressurisation”.

The airline said that in line with standard procedure, the crew deployed oxygen masks and initiated a controlled descent.

“The aircraft landed normally and customers disembarked, where a small number received medical attention as a precaution,” the statement added.

“Customers were provided with refreshment vouchers and hotel accommodation was authorised. However, there was a shortage of available accommodation.”

Some passengers were able to board a replacement flight the following day, while a group who were either unable or unwilling to fly continued their journey by coach instead.

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