Society

Man Sues Airline After Sitting Next To Obese Passenger

| by Maura Turcotte

A well-known health issue, obesity is also a big problem for airlines.

James Bassos, 38, from Brisbane, Australia, recently filed a lawsuit against the Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad, claiming that being seated next to an overweight passenger during a flight in 2011 from Dubai to Sydney left him with back injuries, reports CNN.

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The passenger next to him allegedly coughed frequently and "expelled fluid from his mouth," forcing Bassos to "contort and twist" his body to avoid contact.

"After repeated requests to the cabin crew, Mr. Bassos was given limited access to a crew seat but was still required to spend long stretches of time in a position which he claims caused a back injury and aggravation of an existing back condition," the suit reads.

While the obese man was the cause of the problem, Bassos only holds the airline responsible in his lawsuit.

“James Bassos has no complaint against the unidentified passenger whose enormous body mass invaded his seat space,” his lawyer, Peter Carter, explained to the Daily Mail. Carter argues the airline should have allowed Bassos to sit in another vacant seat.

The airline company tried to have Bassos’ “seat invasion” case dismissed, but Brisbane district judge Fleur Kingham chose not to, and instead ordered medical checks for Bassos regarding his back pain.

While Bassos will undergo a medical check in December 2015, his lawyer Carter remains critical of the airline for refusing to reveal important facts in the case — including the identity of the overweight passenger, whom Carter believes would show “'the extent of seat invasion (the airline) insisted Mr. Bassos endure for the 14-hour flight plain to all to see,” the Daily Mail reports.

Nonetheless, the airline is hopeful that the results of the medical assessment will work to their advantage.

"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," the airline stated. "The safety and comfort of Etihad Airways' passengers and crew is of paramount importance and the airline has a zero tolerance policy towards unruly behavior."

Sources: CNN, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons