Man Sues Etihad over Back Injury From Sitting Next To Obese Passenger

A man is suing an airline, 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 Etihad Airways to court in Queensland, Australia, saying he was forced to twist and contort his body for long periods on a flight in 2011 from Sydney to Dubai.

Bassos’s district court claim states the “grossly overweight” passenger was spilling into his seat, coughing frequently and had fluid coming from his mouth.

After five hours he asked to be moved 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 next to the man 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. In published reasons, Kingham said she wasn’t convinced Bassos had no chance of winning.

She ordered him to undergo a medical exam in Brisbane in December.

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