Air passenger suing for a back injury 'caused by sitting next to obese man'

Air passenger suing for a back injury 'caused by sitting next to obese man'
By Natalie Paris
30 July 2015

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Airlines are already trying to tackle the increasing problem of passenger obesity (note, this is not the passenger referred to in this case) Photo: ALAMY

James Andres Bassos said that during an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Dubai, he was forced to contort his body for long periods because of the “grossly overweight” person in the next seat.

He told a court in Brisbane, Australia, that the man was spilling into his seat, coughing frequently and had fluid coming from his mouth, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press. Bassos asked if he could move seats five hours into the journey, but airline staff allegedly refused his request.

Half an hour later, Bassos complained again and he was moved to a crew seat. Unfortunately, the court heard that he had to return to his actual seat later for security reasons, once for another hour and then again for the final 90 minutes of the flight.

Bassos alleges that the flight gave him a back injury and exacerbated a pre-existing back condition and is seeking damages for personal injuries. Etihad’s defence argued that it is not an unusual occurrence to have overweight passengers taking up extra space on a plane, or to have coughing passengers onboard but district court Judge Fleur Kingham said that this was no reason to strike out the claim.

Her reasoning, which was published, stated that she wasn’t convinced that Bassos had no chance of winning the case. Judge Kingham has ordered him to take a medical exam in Brisbane in December, the report said.

An Etihad Airways spokesman told Telegraph Travel today: "It would be inappropriate to comment in detail on this case as legal proceedings are underway. "Etihad Airways will continue to oppose the action and now that Mr Bassos will finally face a medical assessment in December 2015, as directed by court, we believe that the matter will proceed to an early conclusion."

Source: Telegraph UK