UA777222 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 3348 posts, RR: 11 Posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 13841 times:
Man Sues Airline For Being Seated Next To Obese Man Delta Spokesman Calls Man's Lawsuit Trivial
ASHLAND, Ohio -- An Ashland man is suing Delta Airlines because he was seated next to an obese man during a two-hour flight last November.
Philip Shafer said that Delta breached its contract to provide him with a full seat and reasonable comfort. Shafer claims he suffered embarrassment, severe discomfort, mental anguish and severe emotional distress from the flight. "I think these large people have a responsibility to take control, either to get two seats, or talk to the airline," Shafer said. "The airline has a responsibility to take care of this problem. The last person who should be worried is the innocent passenger."
An attorney for Delta calls the suit trivial and said that it is not a legitimate issue. The case will go to court in mid-September
This is a rather old story but can you really sue an airline for someone's actions? I have been seated next to some people who have had weight issues but at no time did I feel that it required a complaint to the airline. I remember taking a flight to ZRH a few years back when I was tagging along on one of my mom's business trips and the man next to me was obese but fit into his seat. This was a Swiss MD-11 and the only issue that arose was that he could not get the tray table down. I think he ended up eating in the galley or being moved up to business or first, don't really recall.
BR715-A1-30 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 13794 times:
Somebody had to sit there... If there was another seat open, he could have taken it instead... If not, then he had the option to sit there or take another flight.. Stop bitching, and consider yourself lucky to be on the damn plane.
Lincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 13759 times:
Quoting UA777222 (Thread starter): This is a rather old story but can you really sue an airline for someone's actions? I have been seated next to some people who have had weight issues but at no time did I feel that it required a complaint to the airline
Not the first time this has happened. (Airlines have been sued for "forcing" people to sit next to obese pax, for injuries as a result of bags falling out of overhead bins when someone else opened them...)
Note that Delta is not being sued for anyone's "actions" (I'm assuming the other gentleman's obesity is the action in this case), they are being sued for their action (or lack thereof) in providing the pax who is suing the exclusive use of the seat that he purchased (or something along those lines).
Would I complain? probably not...I'm a little stick (about 6'2" 130lbs), but I'd rather not have anyone invade the precious little personal space that I have, even if I'm not "using" it, for the N hours that that flight is going to last.
I would be very interested to see what legal basis the plantiff is using for the suit, and if it is premised on any kind of state right of action (violation of state law/state rights) then I'd be willing to bet money that this case gets bounced very quickly (or if not, that it gets bounced very quickly on appeal) since the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA)'s Preemption Clause prohibits states from "enact[ing] or enforc[ing] a law, regulation or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier" (49 U.S.C. § 41713(b)(1)) -- and the courts have been most liberal in the interpertation of the meaning of the word "service"...
I would be most interested in the views of real lawyers in the house...
[Certainly not a lawyer and not pretending to be one; I just read caselaw in my spare time. Thank goodness for LexisNexis.]
CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
Bels13 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 6 days ago) and read 13758 times:
And you wonder why airlines are losing money. Because they have to defend themselves against the bad seeds of our culture. If only evolution would have acted earlier in this person's life. All people want to do today is sue and get paid money for nothing. It is time to get Congress to pass a new law regarding phony lawsuits. If a judge and/or jury feel that a lawsuit was unjust, then the person filling the lawsuit is required to pay the amount requested in the lawsuit to the company/person being sued. If that person doesn't have that much money, jail time would be served. That will end these McDonalds hot coffee or Delta Airlines sitting next to a larger person stuff real quick. I'm sure the attorneys would not like my stand on this.
SonOfACaptain From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1747 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13717 times:
Hey this reminds me. The first year my dad worked for US, he and the captain were sued for "purposely flying into turbulence and hurting his back." The funny thing is, US didn't want to go to court so they just paid him what he was asking for. Stupid people.
Lincoln From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 3887 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13671 times:
Quoting SonOfACaptain (Reply 8): The funny thing is, US didn't want to go to court so they just paid him what he was asking for. Stupid people
I think many people realize that companies would rather avoid going to court and are generally egar to settle the claim out of court. I think that if companies instead said "Not our problem, see you in court" and battled it out in front of a judge and then claimed resonable attorney's fees when the moron lost I think it would start to send a message (since reasonable attorney's fees may quite easily exceed $30,000 in these cases)...it would further gridlock our judicial system for a period while the message was being sent, but eventually I think the number of frivoulous suits would drop significantly.
Quoting Bels13 (Reply 4): If a judge and/or jury feel that a lawsuit was unjust, then the person filling the lawsuit is required to pay the amount requested in the lawsuit to the company/person being sued. If that person doesn't have that much money, jail time would be served. That will end these McDonalds hot coffee or Delta Airlines sitting next to a larger person stuff real quick.
Not that I'm saying that the current lawsuit-nation mentality is good, but I think this would be a major step backwards for American society -- all the way back to a cause of the Revolution.
Also, note that in the McDonald's case, the coffee was being served at an unsafe temperature, McDonald's had been warned repeatedly that the coffee was being served at an unsafe temperature (and was thus on notice), and McDonald's failed to fix a problem that they knew about before someone was seriously injured as a result.
Tort reform could be a very good thing for our country if done right. If not...
CO Is My Airline of Choice || Baggage Claim is an airline's last chance to disappoint a customer || Next flts in profile
UA777222 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 3348 posts, RR: 11
Reply 10, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13672 times:
Here's a question for all of you,
Is the airline liable for their passengers actions? Say one passenger says something to another. One thing leads to another and they both end up beating the crap out of them. They both turn and say "hey they didn't stop him" and sue the airlines for assault or some charge that would justify what happened.
Does the airline have a right to say "what you do is your issue"
Are they bound by the sale of a ticket to prevent harm and to keep control of the a/c and the passengers inside.
In the case of a fight where those involved are injured, what is an airline supposed to do? Get into the fight and break it up? Sit back and say there was nothing to do?
Sad when airlines' passengers are the downfall of the industry. This might sound a bit dramatic but when low-fare-hungary passengers fly one airline over another causing a decline in the airlines numbers and they are bankrupt who is the airline supposed to blame? Themselves?
ANCFlyer From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13666 times:
I will be the first to agree that law suits in the USA have gone crazy . . . well beyond crazy.
However - I am not a small person being 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing about 220 pounds. Put three people my size in a row of coach seats (that happened to me on CO about a year ago, my IAH flight from SFO went MX so they stuck me on a 738 to CLE and on to DCA in Y) and it is not comfortable. Manageable, but not comfortable.
Any one larger and it's simply unbearable on a long haul . . . all carriers should adopt and enforce rules for obese passengers as does WN. I would not want to be squeezed between a couple of '12 sandwich eatin individuals' because the carrier was "afraid to offend a fat ass" make them pay for two seats . . . I mean, they're gonna take up 1 1/2 seats worth of room anyway, their own and the poor SOB stuck next to or between them.
Make them pay, I see no reason not to . . .
I have sympathy for those large persons whose condition is medical, and I want to make no mistake about it. For those that simply continue to shovel the groceries down their neck, too bad.
Flick70 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13656 times:
I am completely against frivolous lawsuits...but I honestly think this has merit. When I buy a seat, I am essentially buying real-estate for the duration of my trip. I understand that the guy in front might lay his seat back, but I should at least have my 19" across. Space is tight as it is without maxing out what little available room is there.
I am a big guy, but I don't spill into the next seat. I have had experiences where I have been next to a 350lb+ guy and he truly was in my space. If you have a couple of hours of this, you end up getting the bends from leaning away. While not a major medical emergency, I can go for a few days with my back muscles still cramped.
I would not expect millions in restitution, but I would like some kind of return for my situation of some sort. I highly doubt I would sue though. I can see the position of being an "injured party", but nothing that would be beyond small claims court.
Truth be told, if the man next to him was that large, the airline should have accommodated either the large person or the person next to him. If completely full, the large person should have been bumped to the next flight. As annoying as the fact is...it should have been handled better.
/// Braniff - We Get You There In Flying Colors /// (until Putnam got ahold of us)
SHUPirate1 From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3670 posts, RR: 16
Reply 14, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13637 times:
Quoting Flick70 (Reply 13): Truth be told, if the man next to him was that large, the airline should have accommodated either the large person or the person next to him. If completely full, the large person should have been bumped to the next flight. As annoying as the fact is...it should have been handled better.
Flick...I don't want to open up another can of worms, however, what if the much-maligned Southwest Airlines "Customer of increased width" rule became standard throughout the industry? I'm not going to argue this one way or the other, but I would like to throw it out for debate.
Burma's constitutional referendum options: A. Yes, B. Go to Insein Prison!
Jet-lagged From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 883 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13635 times:
I think the lawsuit is frivolous, but he has a point. Why should another passenger be discomforted in such small seats if he or she is unlucky enough to be seated next to an obese person. American society these days says to forgive anything, and nothing ever seems to be anybody's personal fault (it is childhood or environment or stress blah blah blah). But when we get to shared resources, which includes 'public' transporation like airlines, all parties have some responsibility. And here I think airlines shouldn't let non-obese persons suffer, and obese persons should perhaps have to pay for two seats (like southwest is/was doing).
Zvezda From Lithuania, joined Aug 2004, 10512 posts, RR: 63
Reply 17, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 13582 times:
ANCFlyer, you just made my respected users list.
If a passenger doesn't fit in one seat, the airline should sell two seats or none. Selling one seat to someone who doesn't fit into it is, in my opinion, a breach of the contract the airline has with the neighboring passengers. If I buy a seat, I should be able to sit in it -- without my neighboring passengers sitting in my seat with me.
Doona From Sweden, joined Feb 2005, 3783 posts, RR: 13
Reply 18, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 13528 times:
I don't mean to be America-bashing or anything, but this way of solving conflicts is really ridiculous. Oh, I have a little inconvenienced by someone, so I think I'll sue them... And everytime you read about an american law suit it's always something more and more extreme. There's a good South Park episode that covers this...
Still, airlines do have contracts of carriage, and this does certainly seem to be a breach of it. Why not offer the passenger a refund or perhaps free upgrades on his next few flights with the airline. And perhaps an apology is in order...
Still, people: Stop suing each other. Apologies are better, cheaper, and not so stupid...
Sure, we're concerned for our lives. Just not as concerned as saving 9 bucks on a roundtrip to Ft. Myers.
EnviroTO From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 846 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 13513 times:
There are a lot of frivolous lawsuits out there dealing with hot coffee and people injuring themselves through stupidity on other people's property... but this might not be one of those lawsuits. Rules that have a person that takes up two seats pays for two seats seems reasonable to me. Obesity costs money... health costs, food costs, clothing costs... why not airfares? Why should the airline pick up the tab for costs related in most cases to lifestyle and dietary choices of the customer? You wouldn't expect McDonald's to sell an obese person 3 Big Macs for the same price of a single Big Mac for a person of average weight.
This lawsuit might be frivolous if the person sitting next to the man was big but not extremely obese and fit in their seat with the armrest down allowing the other customer to lean slightly the other way to avoid contact... but the details are lacking in this thread to ascertain what level of obesity we are talking about and what level of discomfort the passenger experienced.
BCal DC10 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 724 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 13484 times:
The same thing happened here in the UK a couple of years back where a woman was awarded £13k for being crushed by an obese woman sat next to her on a Virgin Atlantic flight. Must have been pretty bad to suffer those injuries....
ZID From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 294 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 13267 times:
I tend to focus on two things in this situation:
A) If the airlines are going to continue to use these 1960's 17" wide seats as the average person gets larger and larger, then they need to either sell two seats to obese people or no seats. If they don't want the hassle then make the seats wider. The sports world has adapted to the increasing size of humanity - as newer stadiums have wider seats than those built fifty or sixty years ago - so why can't the airline industry? (I know. The airplanes are only so wide, so in order to install wider seats, in a 737 for example, they'd have to go to a 2 - 3 layout which would cost them money. Oh well.)
B) If you know that you are obscenely obese and won't fit into a coach seat then do the considerate thing and either upgrade to a larger seat in business, or purchase two seats. I would have spent the entire flight being upset at this individual for their selfishness and lack of respect for others. It may or may not be their fault for being obese, but it is their fault that they knowingly decided to subject discomfort onto others.
CURLYHEADBOY From Italy, joined Feb 2005, 951 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 13176 times:
I had a nightmare flight MXP-LAX sitting next to an obese man, he could not fit into the economy seat. He was a very nice and polite person, his embarrassment was visible as was my discomfort.
My thought is that airlines should take care of the needs of those kind of persons as it is done for other disabilities. They have the right to travel with comfort even in economy, as the other people have too.
If God had wanted men to fly he would have given them more money...
Isitsafenow From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4984 posts, RR: 22
Reply 23, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 13104 times:
SK A340....You must understand that in the USA, in Washington those people are lawyers. Therefore, we have lawyers making work for lawyers. There will ALWAYs be silly lawsuits in the USA. Its now a way of life we cannot control.
And I hate it!
If two people agree on EVERYTHING, then one isn't necessary.
Tockeyhockey From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 962 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (10 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 13076 times:
Quoting SK A340 (Reply 5): Anyone agree with my theory that the (ridiculous) lawsuits is a real threat to the American society?
i would think that a greater threat to american society is corporations and companies that are not being held accountable for destroying people's lives through toxic waste dumping, chemicals in the air and food, faulty and dangerous products and vaccines, not taking proper security precautions, etc. something like 100,000 people die every year in america as a result of medical malpractice. no one dies from a frivilous lawsuit.
i agree that this lawsuit against delta is trivial, but if you curb a person's right to sue, you make it much more likely that we will all live in a more dangerous and deadly world.
: The cold truth is that the legislative and administrative processes in the USA are unable or unwilling to offer suitable recourse in many situations,
: Yup, but they have to time to weigh in on medical or family decisions regarding brain dead patients in Florida . . . . sheeees. . . . Amen. I'd call
: Some airlines, such as AS, do not allow you to sit in an exit row if you need a seatbelt extension.
: You Americans will sue for anything! This compensation culture is spreading to to Britain, much to the delight of lawyers.
: I don't think the issue is frivolous, but to claim "embarrassment, severe discomfort, mental anguish and severe emotional distress" just seems a littl
: More than any other liberal democracy I can think of, US citizens are paranoid about government regulation. The result is a set of rules and laws tha
: Well, I doubt he really suffered all these things. But if they are not mentioned in the suit it becomes (even more) frivolous.
: Several points I would like to add. I am not a small person. I have shoulders that are 19" wide. Even if I was skinny, my shoulders extend beyond the
: I wish I had thought of a lawsuit when a very similar incident happened on America West a year or so ago.... I was flying SAN-PHX-ELP on HP since Sout
: Very good idea! You may be right, but the whole issue is way over-hyped. Most of the ridiculous stories are just ... stories. e.g. http://www.snopes.
: It is unfortunatate that lawsuits have to be brought to deal with such a problem, keeping out and delaying justice for others and causing significant
: Unfortunately, lawsuits are one of the few ways in America that an individual can (legally) exert power over large corporations to affect change. Sure
: Without knowing the details, I hope he wins. When I buy an airplane ticket I'm buying a seat for myself and don't expect to have to share that seat wi
: I agree with your hypothesis, but lets look at this the other way. If that seat was not available because the individual purchased two seats, would y
: Well if the guy wins his case, I shall sue the airline that next seats me next to a screaming/misbehaving kid on a flight. In an US Court of course!
: why is this guy suing? i mean if you crashed, he had the highest chance, sitting next to a nice airbag... some people are quite unethical.....severe e
: I wanted to comment on this thread from the point of view of a "waist-challenged" individual. I have absolutely no problem buying an extra seat whenev
: Actually, the infamous McDonald's hot coffee case was QUITE legitimate, so it bears no resemblance to this case. The woman in that case suffered 3rd
: Would the man sue the guy if he was thin, or tall or short or racially different?, if idiots like him get away with sueing airlines for being sat next
: Lawyers are one of the only professions that are in existence because they are self sustaining. The only reason we have lawyers is because the other g
: Uhhhh yeah, that's the exact same thing because a tall, thin, short or racially different person would also physically inconvenience him and take awa
: If Delta had done the right thing in the first place we wouldn't be having this discussion. Obese people should have to pay for two coach seats or a f
: PHX-OK, let me ask you a question then. I'm a stick figure who weighs about 40 pounds soaking wet...now, should I be able to get a discount because I
: I was flying from ATL-DFW last month on a 737-800 and a DELTA Captain was seated next to me, He was big and it was pretty uncomfortable. PIA777
: Shafer claims he suffered embarrassment, severe discomfort, mental anguish and severe emotional distress Apart from the "severe discomfort", I can't f
: "Lawyers are one of the only professions that are in existence because they are self sustaining." Bull - for the most part, lawyers stay around becaus
: mental anguish and severe emotional distress from the flight. That screams BS! I hope this lawsuit gets thrown out. If Delta made the big man move, de
: Get over it. The U.S. is the most overweight, and most litigious country on the planet. If you don't like it leave it!
: I agree. This lawsuit is rediculous. It's right up there with the case about the woman suing McDonald's for spilling hot coffee on her lap. It's ignor
: I wouldn't sue, but I would have complained to the airline. I paid for my seat. If the person next to me was taking up half of it, we'd have a signifi
: Again, no it's not. The McDonald's hot coffee case was a legitimate case that the media distorted into sounding like a frivolous lawsuit.
: The simple solution is to have a chair next to the gate. If you can't fit in the chair, you need to buy another seat or pay for first class. This has
: I think this man is absolutely right. When I pay, then I have the right to have a whole seat (this has nothing to do with comfort) and not to expect h
: Indio66, I fully agree with you. And as for the skinny people being able to pay less... it's not the same thing. Airplane tickets are not sold by weig
: I actually like this solution. Thankfully, it was only a two hour flight. If I had to sit next to flesh spillover for a 7 hour flight (JFK-LHR), I wo
: you do know that thomas jefferson, as well as many of the framers of the constitution, and many of our founding fathers were lawyers, right? are you