NY Man Sues Airlines in Detroit 2009 Plane Attack

Theophilus Maranga says he wants compensation for injuries he claims he suffered while trying to subdue an underwear bomber

Thursday, Dec 22, 2011  |  Updated 11:25 PM EDT
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NY Man Sues Airlines in Detroit 2009 Plane Attack

NBC New York

Theophilus Maranga at left with attorney Neil Grimaldi

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A New York man has sued two airlines for $10 million in damages for injuries he says he incurred when he jumped on a Nigerian man who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner with a bomb in his underwear.

Theophilus Maranga filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan. He named as defendants Delta Air Lines, Inc., Air France-KLM and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who awaits sentencing after admitting he tried to blow up the plane. The Christmas 2009 Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight had 290 people aboard.

In an interview with NBC New York Thursday, Maranga described hearing the bomb go off on the plane: "When we about to land in Detroit, we heard a noise of 'pow' and I thought somebody was popping Champagne because it was Christmas," he said.

"One of the flight attendants started shouting, 'What's going on? What's going on?' And then she changed it to, 'What's he doing? What's he doing?,'" he said. "Then I look forward and I saw fire. That's when I jumped on him."

Maranga continued, "I just jumped on him and we were struggling to put the fire off."

Maranga claims the airlines were negligent to let Abdulmutallab aboard. The immigration attorney from Wappinger Falls says he suffered numerous injuries after jumping on Abdulmutallab when he tried to bring down a Christmas 2009 Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight with 290 people aboard.

Maranga's attorney, Neil Grimaldi, said the FAA offered his client money in a settlement but it was "almost nothing in comparison to his injuries," he said.

The airlines declined to comment in the suit.

Maranga said he will testify at the Abdulmutallab's sentencing next month in Detroit.

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