Passenger sues airline following mid-flight incident
A case heard in the NSW Supreme Court concerned a Sydney woman
who suffered a mishap during a flight to Europe. A flight attendant
accidentally spilt hot tea on the passenger, which she claimed made
her jump up, twist sharply and injure her back.
The passenger sued the airline for damages, claiming that she
had had to undergo surgery for disc protrusion in her lower spine
after the accident and had been left with significant ongoing pain
Was the incident an "accident" leading to the
As the incident occurred during an international flight, the
passenger did not have to prove negligence by the airline. Rather,
she had to prove that the incident satisfied the Montreal
Convention, namely that:
An "accident" within the meaning of the Convention
had occurred during the flight; and
It had caused her "bodily injury".
The passenger and the airline agreed there had been an accident,
but the airline disputed all other aspects of the passenger's
claim. It was up to the court to decide whether the passenger had
sustained the "bodily injury" claimed and whether the
accident had caused that injury.
case a - The case for the passenger
case b - The case for the airline
After the hot tea was spilt on me, I jumped to avoid it,
twisted my back sharply and fell on to my partner, who was sitting
next to me on the flight
I immediately felt a sharp pain in my lower back
The pain persisted after the flight and I had to have surgery
on my spine
I now suffer ongoing pain and disability because of the spinal
injury I sustained during the flight
My partner backs up my story of what occurred
Our records show that the passenger only complained about a
mild burn to her leg at the time and did not complain of back pain
during the flight
Medical evidence shows that the passenger did not seek any
medical treatment for a back injury until five days after the
Medical evidence also suggests that the passenger had spinal
problems well before the flight
The accident on the aeroplane did not cause the passenger's
So, which case won? Cast your judgment below to find out
2016 was an important year for the development of class action jurisprudence in Australia. The year brought at least 25 new class action lawsuits and substantial settlements that will impact litigation moving forward.
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