A passenger is suing Etihad Airways, claiming he got a back injury after being forced to sit next to an obese man who coughed a lot.
James Andres Bassos has taken the carrier to court in Queensland claiming he was forced to twist and contort his body for long periods on a 2011 flight from Sydney to Dubai.
His district court claim states the ‘grossly overweight’ passenger was spilling into his seat, was coughing frequently and had fluid coming from his mouth, the Daily Mail reported.
He asked to be moved after five hours but airline staff allegedly refused. Half an hour later, Bassos complained again and he was moved to a crew seat.
However, he had to return to his seat later for another hour, and again for the final 90 minutes of the flight for security reasons, according to court documents.
Bassos is claiming damages for personal injuries, saying that being forced to twist his body for such a long time to avoid contact with the other passenger gave him a back injury and exacerbated an existing back condition.
Etihad tried to have the claim thrown out and argued it was not unusual to have overweight passengers taking up too much space, or coughing passengers.
However, Brisbane district court judge Fleur Kingham refused to strike out the claim on Wednesday.
The judge said she was not convinced Bassos had no chance of winning. She ordered him to undergo a medical exam in Brisbane in December.
“It would be inappropriate to comment in detail on this case as legal proceedings are underway,” an Etihad spokesman said.
“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 safety and comfort of Etihad Airways’ passengers and crew is of paramount importance and the airline has a zero tolerance policy towards unruly behaviour.”
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