Australian seated beside overweight passenger sues Etihad
Jul. 31, 2015
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Etihad Airways said Friday that it will continue to fight a lawsuit by a passenger who says he was left with back pain because he was seated beside an overweight man on a 14-hour flight from the United Arab Emirates to Sydney.
James Bassos, of Brisbane, is suing the Abu Dhabi-based airline in the Queensland state District Court over a permanent back injury he says he suffered while trying to avoid his fellow passenger on the 2011 flight. The 38-year-old interior designer is claiming $227,000 Australian dollars ($166,000) for medical expenses and lost earnings.
Etihad predicted in a statement on Friday that a court-ordered medical assessment would bring the case to a swift end.
"Etihad Airways will continue to oppose the action and now that Mr. Bassos will finally face a medical assessment in December 2015 ... we believe that the matter will proceed to an early conclusion," the airline said.
The airline this week failed to have the lawsuit thrown out of court. In refusing the application, Judge Fleur Kingham said Wednesday she was not convinced that Bassos had no chance of winning. She ordered Bassos's medical examination in Brisbane.
Bassos says he was forced to twist and contort his body to avoid touching the "grossly overweight" passenger, who was spilling into Bassos's side of the dividing arm rest.
Bassos says that after five hours, he felt pain and discomfort in his back and asked to be moved, but was told the flight was full.
Half an hour later as the pain became worse, Bassos asked against to be moved and was allowed to sit in a crew seat at the back of the plane, his claim said.
But Bassos said he twice had to return to his allocated seat, including for the final 90 minutes before landing, for safety reasons.
Etihad said in a statement that it was common for a passenger to be seated next to an overweight passenger on a fully booked flight.
Bassos's claim, filed in 2012, states he suffers back pain, and that his sleep and concentration had been effected and he had been forced to take time off work.
Bassos could not be immediately contacted on Friday.