Securing justice for family against Alaska Airlines | Luvera Law Firm Skip to content

$3.19 million

Securing justice for family against Alaska Airlines

In 2017, 75-year-old Bernice Kekona was traveling home from Hawaii to Spokane via Alaska Airlines, with a connecting flight in Portland. Kekona was an amputee and used a wheelchair, and her family had repeatedly requested and confirmed gate-to-gate transportation for her connecting flight. But due to a miscommunication between the airline and their contractor, no gate-to-gate transport was provided. Kekona attempted to make the trip herself, ultimately falling down 21 steps on an airport escalator in her wheelchair – a horrific incident captured on surveillance video.

Kekona’s injuries included trauma to her head and chest and escalator marks on her face, but the most significant was an Achilles tendon injury that led to septic infection. After three months of a painful and ultimately unsuccessful recovery process, doctors finally amputated her remaining leg, and she died the day after the surgery from overwhelming infection.

Kekona’s relatives sought justice for her death and filed a suit against Alaska Airlines, for which Robert Gellatly and Deborah Martin served as co-counsel.

The court rejected an earlier move by Alaska to dismiss the case. Throughout legal proceedings, the airline repeatedly tried to lay blame solely on Kekona herself, despite the fact that employees disregarded the family’s arrangements and the company’s own safety protocols in allowing a disabled septuagenarian to venture off alone.

In February 2021, a King County Superior Court jury rendered a $3.19 million verdict in favor of the family. In its verdict, the jury found the airline 90 percent responsible for the injuries that led to Kekona’s death, which Gellatly said he hopes will bring a measure of closure to the Kekona family.

Read more about the case:

Alaska Airlines ordered to pay $3.2M to family of woman who died after escalator fall (The Seattle Times) 

Jury awards family $3.19 million in wrongful death lawsuit against Alaska Airlines (KIRO 7) 

Alaska Airlines loses $3.2M lawsuit linked to deadly airport wheelchair crash (Puget Sound Business Journal) 

Share this case:


Airline miscommunication results in devastating tragedy

When escorts left amputee and disabled passenger Bernice Kekona alone due to miscommunications between Alaska and its contractor, she attempted to make the trip herself, ultimately falling down 21 steps on an airport escalator in her wheelchair.

Subscribe to our newsletter for case updates and other news

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
"Bernice Kekona was the victim of a tragic failure by Alaska to provide basic services between their flights. Alaska failed Bernice miserably, and the company has continued to wield the legal system like a weapon to blame Bernice, evade responsibility, and undermine her grieving family in the most hurtful ways."
Robert Gellatly
Luvera Law Firm