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Man sues Etihad after sitting next to obese passenger

An Australian passenger claims his flight circumstances aggravated an existing back condition and is suing the airline for person injuries.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

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A man is suing Etihad Airways over claims his back was injured due to being seated next to an overweight passenger in economy class.

According to court papers filed in Queensland, Australia, James Bassos was on a flight from Sydney to Dubai in 2011 when he was forced to contort and twist his body to avoid contact with a "grossly overweight" passenger who was spilling into his seat.

The papers, filed on 29 July 2015, alleged that after five hours into the flight Bassos asked to move but cabin crew refused.

After complaining again a short time later, Bassos says he was moved to a crew seat.

However, he says had to return to his seat for another hour and then again for the final 90 minutes of the flight, which he claims aggravated an existing back condition.

Bassos is claiming damages for personal injuries. 

Etihad tried to have the case dismissed, arguing that it is not unusual to be seated next to obese passengers. However Brisbane district court Judge Fleur Kingham refused to strike out the claim, adding she was "not satisfied Mr Bassos had no real prospects of success".

She ordered Bassos to undergo a medical examination in Brisbane in December.

The Irish Independent daily newspaper reported that an Etihad Airways spokesman confirmed legal proceedings are underway and stated: "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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