Skip to Content
No Fees Unless We Win 855-948-5098

Alaska Airlines Lawsuit Alleges Negligence Against Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems

Alaska Airlines 1282

Wisner Baum filed a lawsuit today on behalf of seven passengers who suffered physical and psychological trauma when a door plug blew off Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, creating a massive hole in the side of the passenger cabin.

Aviation accident attorneys Timothy A. Loranger and Ari S. Friedman filed the complaint (Case No. 24-2-05657-2) in Washington State Superior Court, King County. The plaintiffs in the case, Cuong Tran, Huy Tran, Ket Tran, Tran Vo, and Vo’s three minor children, were all passengers aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.

Plaintiffs in the case seek punitive damages alleging negligence, manufacturing defect liability, and failing to protect passengers from harm against the following defendants:

  • The Boeing Co., which assembled the Boeing 737-MAX 9/B39M, operating as Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.
  • Spirit AeroSystems, which installed the left door plug and participated in the assembly and manufacture of the aircraft.
  • Alaska Airlines, the carrier for Flight 1282, as well as the owner/operator of the aircraft.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Mid-Flight Incident

On January 5, 2024, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 departed from Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon bound for Ontario International Airport in Ontario, California. Shortly after takeoff at approximately 5:12 p.m. local time, the airliner suffered a severe structural failure when the left mid-exit door (MED) plug violently separated from the aircraft, leaving a gaping hole in the fuselage. This exposed the passengers and crew to the outside environment. Immediate, rapid decompression caused the deployment of the emergency oxygen system. As a result of this violent and terrifying event, the passengers and crew suffered harm, including physical injuries and serious emotional distress, fear, and anxiety.

According to the lawsuit, the in-flight emergency occurred because bolts essential for securing the door plug to the fuselage were apparently not installed. The failure to re-install missing or problematic bolts with the left door plug “was due to an established, pervasive, and systematic practice and culture at Boeing of cutting corners,” the complaint alleges.

“This stems from a willful and brazen decision to omit key quality control steps and inspections. Reasonable quality controls would have prevented this disaster by identifying missing and/or problematic arrestor bolts and/or other problems with the MED plug.”

The complaint further alleges that Alaska was aware of Boeing’s policies and decisions before and after purchasing the aircraft. Alaska also “failed to conduct reasonable and sufficient inspections and/or tests that would have identified the door plug problem(s),” the lawsuit alleges.

“Our clients — and likely every passenger on that flight— suffered unnecessary trauma due to the failure of Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, and Alaska Airlines to ensure that the aircraft was in a safe and airworthy condition,” said aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger. “The level of apparent negligence and disregard for safety protocols is astonishing and terrifying.”

“This lawsuit isn’t only about the unimaginable fear and suffering of the passengers on that plane, it is about a failure that should have never occurred,” adds attorney Ari Friedman. “We’re talking about a gaping hole ripping open mid-flight in the side of a commercial jet. Properly installed bolts are the difference between safety and disaster, so there is no excuse for why those would be left out, or why quality control checks and routine inspections would miss them.”

Following the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all Boeing 737 Max 9s grounded and launched a safety investigation. Inspections by Alaska and United Airlines revealed loose bolts on multiple 737 Max 9s in their fleets.

The FAA also announced an audit of Boeing's Max 9 production line and suppliers "to evaluate Boeing’s compliance with its approved quality procedures." It is also subjecting Boeing, as well as its third-party suppliers, to additional increased monitoring.

Just days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. Department of Justice had opened a criminal investigation into the Boeing door plug blowout on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. Boeing also told a congressional panel that the company could not find important documentation concerning work on the door plug panel.

What is a Door Plug?

Commercial airplanes come in different configurations, typically at the election of the purchasing airline. One option is to remove an emergency exit row door and replace it with a door plug, which is installed in the fuselage where an emergency exit door would have been. That row looks like any other non-emergency exit row from the aircraft's interior. From the exterior, it looks like a normal passenger window nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the fuselage. The Boeing 737-MAX 9/B39M, operating as Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, was configured with a door plug in Row 26.

A door plug is installed in the fuselage by using two upper guide fittings and two lower hinge fittings which are installed with four bolts secured by castle nuts and cotter pins, and 12 stop fittings (6 fore and 6 aft). This design prevents the plug from moving so that it stays in place during the operation of the aircraft. Once installed, the door plug should and does not need to be opened except for inspection, maintenance, and/or repair.

About the Plaintiffs in Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Lawsuit

Attorneys say that plaintiff Cuong Tran’s life was saved by his seatbelt when the side of the aircraft he was on tore away, leaving a door-sized hole just in front of his Row 27 window seat on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282. Tran, seated next to his friend Huy Tran, of Garden Grove, Calif., right behind the row where the door plug blew out, described the sound as a deafening explosion.

When the door plug ripped free from the fuselage, it caused an immediate and rapid decompression, exposing Cuong, Huy, and all the other passengers to the noise of the wind and the freezing outside environment. The plane rapidly decompressed as air rushed out of the hole, pulling on everything inside, including Tran and others nearby.

The suction immediately tore his shoes and socks from his feet. Attorneys say Tran’s body was jerked so violently that his foot was injured when it got trapped in the seat structure in front of him.

A Claremont, Calif. family — Ket Tran, Tram Vo, and their three young sons — also feared for their lives as the 737 decompressed. As oxygen masks dropped from above, they saw the gaping hole in the side of the airplane and heard the noise of the outside environment. They are now in counseling to try and work through the trauma they experienced, attorneys say.

Wisner Baum – Aviation Attorneys

Wisner Baum is a Los Angeles-based law firm that has been in practice since 1985. Our firm has won over $4 billion in verdicts and settlements, including more than half a billion in aviation accident litigation. We have successfully litigated cases against every major domestic airline.

Read more about our commercial airline case history.


  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter your city.
  • Please enter your state.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.