Southwest Flight Attendant Blames Airline for Her Husband’s Coronavirus Death After He Drove Her Home from Mandatory Training Session Where She Was Infected First

Carol and Bill Madden

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the airline, alleging that lax COVID-19 protocols during mandatory training last summer, and slack contact tracing after an attendee tested positive, led to her husband’s death from the virus.

Carol Madden, a 69-year-old Baltimore-based flight attendant who has worked for Southwest since 2016, is seeking more than $3 million in damages for what the lawsuit says was the airline’s negligence, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

She and her husband, Bill, a veteran and retired railroad signal engineer who drove her home from the one-day training session at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in July, got sick days after the training and eventually tested positive for COVID-19. Bill’s oxygen levels plunged, and his health deteriorated so rapidly that he couldn’t take his own temperature. He died a few weeks later in a York, Pennsylvania, hospital, with COVID pneumonia listed as the first cause of death. He was 73.

Madden, a cancer survivor who stayed on the job throughout the pandemic, told USA TODAY she “firmly believes my husband would still be here” if Southwest had applied the same strict safety protocols for employees as it does for passengers. It even coined a term for the latter, the “Southwest Promise.”

“They were cleaning the seats. They were cleaning the air vents. They were cleaning the seat belts. Every touchpoint was cleaned,”‘ she said in an interview Tuesday. “They did not do that in my training last year.

“I love my airline, but they didn’t love me back.”

Southwest Airlines filed a motion Friday to dismiss the case. In the filing, the airline expressed its sympathy to Madden and others who have lost family members to COVID-19, but said blaming the airline for the death is “misplaced.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Dawn Gilbertson

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