A New York man is suing Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM for $10 million for injuries he says he sustained while helping to stop the so-called "underwear bomber" from blowing up a plane on Christmas Day 2009.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, Theophilus Maranga says he "risked his life" by jumping on the would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man who attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound flight from Amsterdam with a bomb stashed in his underwear.
Abdulmutallab's clothes caught fire after he tried to detonate the explosives.
The lawsuit said Maranga lost a tooth and suffered injuries to his ribs , permanent numbness in his hands and a pain in his neck that hampers his movements. It accuses Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA), who are in an airline alliance, of negligence for "allowing a bomber to board their aircraft with an explosive device."
Maranga's attorney, Neil Grimaldi, called his client a "hero" in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.
"Here's a guy who saves an airliner, saves hundreds of people's lives, gets hurt and they want to play cheap," Grimaldi said.
Grimaldi said Maranga had attempted to make a claim through a federal aviation insurance program, but that the settlement offered was insubstantial.
Maranga's work as an immigration attorney in Wappinger Falls, New York, has been hampered by the injuries, Grimaldi said. Maranga is also being treated for "numerous psychological injuries" resulting from his act, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also names Abdulmutallab, who has confessed to attempting to bomb the plane, as a defendant .
He is in prison awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in October to eight felonies, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He could not be reached for comment.
Abdulmutallab has said he wanted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which had 290 people aboard as it approached Detroit to avenge the killing of innocent Muslims by the United States. Delta owned Northwest at the time of the incident.
A Delta spokeswoman said the airline does not comment on pending litigation. Air France-KLM did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.