A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the city of Charlotte by the family of a teenager who apparently fell to his death from the wheel well of a plane during its flight from Charlotte to Boston.
The suit also named US Airways and Charlotte Douglas International Airport as defendants. The claims against them also were thrown out.
Delvonte Tisdale, 16, left his Charlotte home sometime on Nov. 14, 2010. A day later, his body was found in a Boston suburb. It was so damaged that authorities couldnt identify the victim and an autopsy couldnt determine the cause of death. A scribbled hall pass with Tisdales name on it provided investigators with their only clue to the teenagers identity.
Authorities determined that the North Mecklenburg High School sophomore likely sneaked onto the tarmac of the Charlotte airport and climbed into the wheel well of US Airways Flight 1176, bound for Boston.
Tisdales security breach raised questions about the airports security. It led to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police report that called the airports police force inadequate to monitor the nations 11th-busiest airport.
The lawsuit, filed by Tisdales family in November 2012, said the defendants should have done more to prevent Tisdale from getting onto the tarmac and into the planes wheel well. It sought damages in excess of $10,000.
Tisdale was involved in his schools Air Force ROTC program. He was well-liked in his school and community and was characterized as a well-behaved child who had a good life, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged that the defendants negligently failed to ensure that children like Tisdale could not gain access to restricted areas, including the tarmac and airplanes.
The defendants failed to warn Tisdale of the dangers associated with boarding a plane as a passenger in the wheel well of an airplane, the lawsuit alleged.
Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis ruled late Tuesday that Tisdale himself was negligent in his actions and that the city is not responsible for the care of people who breach security.
On Wednesday, after the lawsuit was thrown out, City Attorney Bob Hagemann said in a news release: While the City remains saddened by Mr. Tisdales death and sympathizes with his family, the Courts ruling confirms our belief that the City should not be held legally liable for Mr. Tisdales decisions and actions.
The news release said that the judge, in dismissing the case, agreed that Tisdale, by allegedly entering a secured area and climbing into the wheel well, was himself negligent.
Tisdales father, mother and grandmother couldnt be reached for comment. Their attorney was also unavailable.
Hagemann noted that while the plaintiffs have the right to appeal, he is confident that Judge Lewis ruling will stand.
Steele: 704-358-5067 on Twitter: @steelecs
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