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Man Sues Airline Over Wife's Disappearance

April 20, 2002|NANCY WRIDE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The husband of an Alzheimer's patient who disappeared at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Dec. 5 has filed a $10-million lawsuit charging that American Airlines or its agents lost her.

An attorney representing Joe Dabney, 63, filed the lawsuit in Bakersfield, where he and Margie Dabney lived at the time of her disappearance. It accuses the airline of gross negligence, breach of contract and incompetence.

The Dabneys were bound for LAX from Indianapolis and had a plane change at the Texas airport. Margie Dabney, 70, vanished in the minutes after she and her husband left one gate headed for another in the terminal. She remains missing.

American Airlines spokesman Marty Heires said Friday that "we don't normally comment on lawsuits," but noted the efforts the airline had made to help the family. Those included paying many of the expenses of Candace Price of Indiana, who has spent weeks in Texas searching for her mother.

The airline has said that the attendant assigned to escort the Dabneys to their gate may have mistakenly thought he was to help only Joe Dabney, who must use a wheelchair. The airline says the attendant did not know that the wife suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

The national Alzheimer's Assn. says that 4 million Americans suffer the memory-impairing disease, and that about half of the afflicted wander at some point.

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