View Full Version : Airlines face claims after clot ruling

20th Dec 2002, 19:21
Sat "Melbourne Age"

Airlines face claims after clot ruling
December 21 2002
By Fergus Shiel
Law Reporter

A Victorian court has cleared the way for hundreds of compensation cases against airlines and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority over alleged blood-clot injuries.

Justice Bernard Bongiorno, of the Supreme Court, yesterday rejected a bid by Qantas and British Airways to have a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) test case struck out.

Sixty-one-year-old Sydney man Brian Povey, who suffered a permanently disabling stroke near the end of a four-day return trip to London in February, 2000, brought the action.

Outside the court Slater & Gordon partner Paul Henderson described the ruling as "a unique judgment" that set a precedent of international importance.

"All the plaintiffs in this action - some 500 - are now in a position to have their cases determined on its merits," Mr Henderson said.

Among those waiting in line to sue for compensation is 29-year-old Brunswick woman Michelle Mautone, who suffered DVT during a honeymoon in the Maldives in April, 2000.

"It destroyed our honeymoon because I couldn't walk and it was absolute agony," she said yesterday.

Qantas and British Airways have until February 7 to decide whether to appeal or allow the case to proceed to trial in the second half of next year.

The airlines argued that the case should be struck out, as blood clots suffered by passengers on long-haul flights could not be defined as "an accident" under international aviation law.

Under the Warsaw Convention, airlines are liable only in the case of an accident.

The judge said the plaintiff could argue that the failure to warn him of DVT risks and advise him of precautions constituted an accident. But he said that even if the court were convinced by the argument, Mr Povey would still need to prove the accident caused the DVT.

Qantas' solicitor, Peter Bartlett, of the law firm Minter Ellison, said the US Supreme Court had defined an accident as something external to a person, thus excluding DVT.

"Qantas is confident that, however pleaded, DVT doesn't constitute an accident under the Warsaw Convention and that will be the ultimate finding of the courts," he said.

A ruling on a similar case to Mr Povey's is due to be handed down by the High Court in London this morning.

21st Dec 2002, 23:16
Why is it that the other High Courts overseas tend to rule against these claims?
But no, the bleeding hearts in Oz insist the airlines were well aware, the medical cases documented and were hence directly liable.

The interesting fact is that one victim apparently underwent surgery prior to the flight, was instructed to not fly and was not wearing the surgical stockings provided to prevent blood clots as recommended by their surgeon!
Go figure.
If the fact the the plaintiff may have been dehydrated by function of alcohol in any content is revealed then this would automatically deal a crippling blow to the court case, not to mention any potential litigants.

This will be a blood bath for all the airlines that operate to/from Australia or within and will be defended vehemently.
Laying direct proportionate blame square at the feet of the respective airlines will have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt - not an easy feat.

Bloody lawyers trying to get a name for themselves and earn some quick bucks in the process hoping for a prior settlement and possibly to the detriment of their clients!