Transportation carriers such as airlines owe a duty of care to passengers for their safety. Deviating from this duty can result in tragic consequences such as death. A recent settlement with airlines over the death of a passenger from the Bronx shows that a fatal accident is not the only possible cause of a fatality.
The passenger’s husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Delta, KLM Royal and Lufthansa Airlines seeking $6 million. He claimed that the carriers sent his deceased wife on an incapacitating odyssey among various airlines, locations and countries that led to her death in October 2012. His 56-year-old wife was 407 pounds and had a partially amputated leg that confined her to a wheelchair, according to court documents.
The couple flew to Hungary without incident in September 2012. However, she had to return home so that her physician in the United States could adjust her medication. She first felt ill on Oct. 2 and was cleared by a doctor in Hungary to fly home on Oct. 15.
Upon arriving at the Budapest airport, they learned that broken seats on the plane would not let her maneuver from her wheelchair to the seats. After waiting for several hours, they were instructed to fly Delta out of Prague the next day. However, Delta had inadequate transport to her plane seat.
They attempted to fly on Lufthansa on Oct. 22 and first informed the airline of the woman’s health. However, she had to leave the plane because other passengers had to catch a connecting flight. The suit claims that her husband found her dead in her bed on Oct. 24 while they were awaiting another flight home in Preszem.
Her husband alleged that the airlines caused her death. He claimed that they showed a willful, wanton and reckless disregard for his wife’s safety when they intentionally refused to make proper accommodations for her travel.
The suit against the airlines was quietly settled in August. The parties have not disclosed its terms or commented on this settlement.
Families who suffer the loss of relative through the negligence of a carrier should seek prompt advice on their right to compensation in a wrongful death action. Representation can help assure that rights are protected in litigation or settlement negotiations.
Source: Daily News, “Exclusive: Airlines settle $6M lawsuit in death of Bronx woman who was ‘too fat’ to fly home to the U.S.” Dareh Gregorian, Sept. 8, 2014