by Kashmira Gander, The Independent, May 5, 2017
A grieving mother is suing American Airlines for $10 million for allegedly losing her daughters ashes, after her luggage containing the remains went missing.
Iddy Pierre-Canel was travelling from her home city of Phoenix, Arizona, to Tucson, on her way to bury her daughter Carm-Idrelle Casseus.
Casseus, who grew up in Maryland, died aged 28 of an unspecified illness in February 2016. Pierre-Canel claimed in an interview with NBC News that she told American Airline staff prior to her flight on 5 March 2016 that she didn’t want to check her luggage into the hold because she wanted to keep the ashes close.
“When the plane took off, that's when I realised I didn't have my bag,” Pierre-Canel told the broadcaster. A member of staff then told her her bag was checked in, she added.
Pierre-Canel explained that she recalled a staff member taking her bags, but thought they were helping her to carry them to her seat because she had been crying in the airport terminal.
Lorraine Morey, the lawyer representing Pierre-Canel, said that her bag could not be found when she arrived in Tucson.
“I begged American Airlines every day to find the urn,” she said.
The Independent has contacted American Airlines for a comment. The company told NBC News: “When we need customers to gate check a bag, we always ask for customers to remove all valuables and important documents. Had we known there were cremated ashes in the bag, we would have had her remove them or found a place for the bag. We apologised for losing the items and certainly are very sorry for her terrible loss.”
A spokesperson added that Pierre-Canel had produced a list of items in the bag, with the contents worth an estimated $24,000, but that the urn was not featured.
Morey responded that this was because the urn was considered to be priceless. The airline returned Pierre-Canel’s suitcase 19 days after losing it, but the ashes weren’t inside.
"I wanted to die, because I felt that I failed my child,” said Pierre-Canel. She added: "I lost her twice.”
Pierre-Canel is currently defending herself against a lawsuit from a life insurance firm on allegations of fraud. She denies the charges. Morey, who isn’t representing her in that case, added that her client has nothing to hide.
The law suit come as an Australian man is suing American Airlines for $AUD100,000 after he claimed he was injured because he was seated next to two “grossly obese” passengers on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.
Michael Anthony Taylor, from Wollongong, New South Wales, claimed that he was left with permanent back and neck injuries because he was crushed by the passengers beside him during a 14-hour flight.
A spokesperson from American Airlines told The Independent: “We just received the lawsuit and we are reviewing the allegations“.