Ex-Delta flight attendant sues, says burst pipe soaked her in waste

Delta Air Lines flight attendant Tina Brock was dozing in a sleep room in the flight attendants’ layover lounge at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport one morning when she and her colleagues heard a loud gushing sound and saw a cascade of liquid suddenly pouring through the ceiling tiles onto the floor.

As Brock got out of a recliner and scrambled to move her suitcase and other personal items from the area she realized it wasn’t water that was flowing down.

It was raw sewage, Brock says in a new lawsuit — urine and feces — and it wasn’t just soaking her things; it was getting all over her, too, splashing on her hair, face and mouth, and then completely dousing her.

Now, Brock and her husband, Joe Phillips, of Orange Beach, Ala., are suing Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corp. in Fulton County state court for damages resulting from the alleged incident on Aug. 1, 2012. AATC is responsible for maintenance of the area under Concourse A where the lounge is located, according to the suit. Prior to the incident, the suit states, a pipe dangled from the ceiling in the sleep room over a large white bucket.

Brock says she has suffered severe psychological harm as a result of the incident, and a loss of quality of life. She suffers from panic and anxiety in small and crowded spaces, requires regular medical attention and counseling, and has been diagnosed with PTSD, according to the suit. She had to quit working as a flight attendant for Delta and has been rendered incapable of performing marital duties including sex, the suit says.

“The incident speaks for itself,” said Eric Register, Brock’s attorney. “Her doctor has indicated it’s the most serious case (of PTSD) she’s treated.”

Register said he originally filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court but moved the matter to state court to get the case on the court calendar quicker.

Representatives of AATC could not be immediately reached for comment.

When the ceiling gave way and the waste began to pour down, Brock and her fellow flight attendants couldn’t get out of the sleep room, even as the sewage began to build up on the floor to a depth of about a foot, the suit says: the area of the leak was between them and the only door out. So, they hid in a closet where Brock began to gag and vomit uncontrollably from the stench.

After no less than ten minutes, the suit says, the flow of sewage slowed then stopped. But no one wanted to enter the room to help the flight attendants, the suit says, so instead people tossed them trash bags and told the flight attendants to step into them and then climb over the recliners to exit.

Brock was taken to a pilots’ lounge which had the nearest shower and was able to salvage a dress that was not soiled from her belongings, the rest of which were discarded, according to the suit. Then she flew to Pensacola, the nearest airport to her home.

In the days after, the suit says, she became severely depressed, couldn’t sleep and had the sensation that bugs were eating away at her skin.

The suit says that, after 18 years she was forced to stop flying for Delta this spring because the crowded spaces of airports and aircraft were triggers for her symptoms. She is still an employee of the company.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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