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Saturday, 20 April, 2002, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Man sues airline for losing wife
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Martin Turner
BBC Washington correspondent

A Californian man has sued American Airlines for $10m after his wife disappeared while changing planes in Texas in December 2001.

Margie Dabney, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, went missing at Dallas-Fort Worth airport and her husband Joe has accused the airline of gross negligence in her disappearance.

The couple were returning to Los Angeles from a visit to their daughter in Indianapolis and had to change planes at Dallas-Fort Worth, the third busiest airport in the world.

Missing for months

Mrs Dabney, aged 70, had been disoriented in the plane and had tried to open a door during the flight.

An escort was requested for her but failed to turn up at the gate when the plane landed.

It was then that she became separated from her husband, who is confined to a wheelchair.

That day, five months ago, was the last time he saw his wife.

A construction worker did spot Mrs Dabney on the airport tarmac a couple of days later but no-one has seen her since, despite American Airlines offering a reward of $10,000.

'Tragic situation'

Mr Dabney's lawyer has accused the airline of gross negligence and said it had been evasive.

A spokesman for American Airlines said it had been very active in trying to find out what had happened and described it as a tragic situation. Police say they are baffled by the case.

More than 55 million passengers pass through Dallas-Fort Worth's sprawling complex every year.

See also:

20 Dec 00 | A-B
Alzheimer's disease
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