Father of girl who suffered burns on Cebu Pacific flight considers filing suit

By , on June 2, 2014

Shutterstock photo
Shutterstock photo

MANILA, Philippines – The father of a six-year-old girl who suffered first-degree burns as a result of a Cebu Pacific flight attendant’s carelessness is considering filing charges against the employee and the carrier.

The child sustained burns on her arm after scalding water was accidentally spilled on her while on board the aircraft.

“I will be filing a negligence case dun sa (against the) flight attendant,” Ryan Rey Quilala told INQUIRER.net on Sunday.

Quilala, a prosecutor for the Office of the Ombudsman, added that he will file a claim for damages against Cebu Pacific for the “anxiety” and “trauma” their family experienced stemming from the mishap. The incident took place while the family was on their way from Davao City to Manila on board flight 5J 8974 on May 27.

According to Quilala, not only did the flight attendant spill “steaming hot water” on the right arm of his daughter Reanne, but she also did not respond properly and neither thought to apply first aid, nor knew the proper first aid.

The irate father recounted that the flight attendant “simply asked for an apology instead of immediately administering first aid treatment” as his daughter cried in pain.

“Had it not for the request of my wife for any medication the entire flight crew will just watch in vain,” he said.

He asserted that the flight crew lacked proper training and handling emergency situations.

“Di ba, ang first aid treatment ay running water? Ang ginawa nya linagyan nya kaagad ng plastic bag. Hindi pa iyong ice bag…plastic talaga na puno ng ice. In-apply nya directly sa skin ng anak ko (Isn’t it that first aid treatment for burns is running water? What she did is she took a plastic bag. Not an ice bag…but a plastic bag filled with ice. She applied it directly to my daughter’s arm,)” he said.

Quilala disclosed that they had to stop the flight attendant from applying the plastic bag; an “erroneous” response to treating a burn. He said they instead used the child’s towel to wrap the ice.

The World Health Organization says that ice should not be directly applied on burns because “it deepens the injury.”

Quilala added that they also asked for a burn ointment, which they were only given after 20 minutes; even as he pointed out that this should always be readily available since flight attendants routinely serve hot beverages and food.

“Yung burn ointment na dinala pa nila in Deutsche. Sabi ko paano ko malalaman kung pang-burn? Tinignan pa namin yung box for English translation. Tsaka lang nya chineck kung expired (The inscription on the burn ointment they gave us was in Deutsche. I asked them how will we know if it is indeed for burns. We had to check the box for the English translation. And it was only then that they checked if it was expired,)” he said.

A family doctor confirmed that Reanne had indeed sustained a first degree burns on her arm.

Adding insult to injury, Quilala said that a handwritten complaint handed over to Cebu Pacific has yet to be acknowledged by the company.

“Sabi nung senior flight attendant nila mag-iemail sa akin the next day so I gave them enough time. Wednesday, Thursday, hindi nakipag-communicate sa akin so Friday I decided susulat na ako sa Cebu Pacific (The senior flight attendant assured me that they will e-mail the next day so I gave them enough time. Wednesday and Thursday came and they have yet to communicate with me so I decided to send a letter on Friday,)” Quilala said.

He also sent copies of the letter to the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

“In view of your seeming indifference to this incident please be advised that I will pursue all means and legal actions to protect the rights of my daughter and that of my family under Section 15 of the DOTC-DTI Joint Administrative Order No. 01 (Series of 2012), Articles 1170, 2217, 2219(2), 2221 and 2229 of the New Civil Code, and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations,” Quilala said in the letter.

Quilala’s case was brought to the attention of the media and the public after he posted about it on Facebook. He says that he hopes for their case to set an example for other passengers of Cebu Pacific who may have experienced similar mistreatments.

“Kasi baka may ibang biktima na tumatahimik na lang syempre yung hassle, yung gastos. Some of them cannot afford yung abugado to protect their rights (Perhaps other victims don’t do anything because of the hassle and the expenses. Some of them cannot afford a lawyer to protect their rights.),” he said.