Stroka v. United Airlines

835 A.2d 1247 (2003)

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Stroka v. United Airlines

New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division
835 A.2d 1247 (2003)

Facts

Kim Stroka (plaintiff) worked as a flight attendant for United Airlines (defendant). On September 11, 2001, Stroka was not on board United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board, after terrorists hijacked the flight. Stroka had taken a vacation that day to go bowling and to take care of her daughter. Stroka watched on television at the bowling alley as hijackers crashed two planes into the World Trade Center and learned that a United Airlines flight had crashed. Stroka did not learn that the United flight was the one she was scheduled to work until she left the bowling alley to pick up her daughter. Upon learning the news, Stroka cried and became totally distraught. Stroka was nauseous, trembling, and had trouble with her bowels. Stroka’s symptoms persisted for several days, and she had trouble eating and sleeping. Stroka had been friends with several of the flight attendants who were killed. Stroka was traumatized by the way her friends were murdered by the hijackers and overcome by the guilt brought on by the realization that a flight attendant died because Stroka had taken the day off. Even the sight of an airport runway caused Stroka to have panic attacks. Stroka was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome and became completely disabled. Stroka filed a workers’-compensation claim. A workers’-compensation judge ruled in Stroka’s favor and awarded her medical costs, benefits for her temporary total disability, and attorney’s fees. United Airlines appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Winkelstein, J.)

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