On January 6, 1998, about 1815 eastern standard time, a Boeing 757-232, N618DL, registered to Wilmington Trust Company, and operated by Delta Air Lines, Inc. as flight 1402, a Title 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled domestic passenger flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Orlando, Florida, had a passenger injured when a coffee pot fell in his lap and spilled hot coffee on him. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft was not damaged and the airline transport-rated captain, first officer, 5 flight attendants, and 181 passengers were not injured. One passenger received serious injuries. The flight originated from Atlanta, Georgia, the same day, about 1723.

The captain stated that the first officer was flying the aircraft. After departure from Atlanta they were cleared to cruise at 29,000 feet. They were in between layers of clouds at this altitude and experienced continuous light turbulence. He left the seat belt sign on and had the cabin crew remain seated. They emerged from the turbulent conditions and also were cleared to 27,000 feet. There were no returns on radar within 60 miles of the aircraft and conditions were now smooth with some occasional light turbulence. He then told the cabin crew they could get up and begin cabin service.

The captain sated that about 5 minutes after cabin service began, and after having been in smooth conditions for 10 minutes, the aircraft encountered about 4 to 5 seconds of instantaneous moderate turbulence. The aircraft was just east of Valdosta, Georgia at this time. There were no noticeable changes in altitude or airspeed. The remainder of the flight was smooth. He was later notified that coffee had spilled on a passenger, causing injuries. He requested medical assistance to meet the flight on arrival in Orlando.

Two flight attendants stated that they were working with a beverage cart in the area of row 44, about 5 minutes after the captain said they could get up. The aircraft encountered turbulence, went up, and then dropped. They and the cart were lifted off the floor. The full coffee pot fell from the top of the cart into the lap of a 7-year-old passenger seated in seat 44D. The top came off the pot and coffee spilled into his lap causing burn injuries.

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