AA Quest For Gynecological Records Termed 'Outrageous'
By Howard Schwach
The family of a woman killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 is outraged over the airlines' request for the gynecological records of the victim's daughter, who was safe on the ground-and just 16 years old-when her mother perished aboard the tragic flight.
And it doesn't stop there. Lawyers for American Airlines want access to any of the young woman's gynecological records dating back to when she was just 11, according to Paul Hedlund, the Los Angeles attorney representing the family of Kathy Williams, a 54-year-old international banker/financer who was killed when Flight 587, an Airbus A300, crashed in Belle Harbor in 2001.
Hedlund and Williams' husband, Keith, both termed the request for the records of Emily Williams, who is now a 21 year old college student, "outrageous" and are asking Judge Robert Sweet to reject it.
"Even [the lawyers for] Airbus could not figure out why these records are needed, but American Airlines insists," said Hedlund. "They just want to make things difficult for the family. This is such a fishing expedition that even the [lawyers] in New York were shocked by it."
"The only issue before the court should be: Will Emily Williams outlive her mother's life expectancy?" the lawyer told The Wave. "How can you find that in gynecological records and what do you do even if you find something?"
Keith Williams is even more incensed by the demand for his daughter's records.
Williams spoke to The Wave by phone this week from Northern England, where he is visiting a relative.
"This is simply entirely consistent with the scandalous behavior that the airline has shown us from the beginning," Williams said. "They have tried to evade the due process of law and this latest demand is calculated to be unpleasant."
"We have an irrefutable claim for damages and [American Airlines] is trying to be as nasty as they can be towards the family and the other families that still have not settled," he added.
A spokesperson for American Airlines declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but Robert Spragg, an attorney for Kriendler and Kriendler in New York City who has represented many of the Flight 587 families in their lawsuits before Judge Sweet in the Southern District Federal Court, said that medical records that could indicate longevity are routinely requested in damage cases, he has never been asked for gynecological records in any of the hundreds of cases he has handled.
"The defendants always look to determine the life extent when discussing damages, look for a medical condition that will shorten life," Spragg said. "Information about conditions that might shorten a life is fair game.
"Gynecological records are not usually requested in that regard," he added.
Hedlund told The Wave late Wednesday afternoon that he had argued his case for restricting the records before Judge Sweet that morning and that Sweet indicated he was taking it "under consideration."
"This is an injustice that makes us conscious of the fact that there should have to be some just cause before we invade the privacy of a young individual. We need Congressional intervention to ensure that defense counsels can't go on a fishing expedition such as this one," Hedlund said.