An Australian man has sued American Airlines seeking over 100,000 dollars in compensation for getting ‘squashed’ after being seated next to two “grossly obese” passengers during a nearly 14-hour flight. Michael Anthony Taylor, 67, of Wollongong, New South Wales, is seeking more than 100,000 dollars in damages from the airline, claiming he was crushed by the next passenger during the flight from Sydney to Los Angeles and refused permission to move to another seat.
According to documents lodged in court, Taylor was seated next to the window in economy class on the December 2015 flight, sharing the row with two passengers described as “grossly obese”, news.com.au reported. The body of the passenger next to Taylor “spilt over and encroached” into his seat, forcing him to “contort his body into a series of positions including standing up, crouching, keeling and leaning forward”.
The case, brought in Australia’s Federal Court, follows a similar lawsuit last year in which an Italian lawyer sued Emirates airline after he was forced to “suffer” a nine-hour flight beside an obese man. According to Taylor’s lawsuit, the situation caused him to experience pain, injuries and discomfort during the whole flight, which was about 14 hours long. Taylor was quoted as saying that he has since suffered back injuries, neck pain and injuries, ongoing discomfort and the aggravation of pre-existing scoliosis — curvature of the spine.
Taylor’s lawyer, Thomas Jansen, said his client repeatedly asked the cabin crew if he could move to another seat, but he was not allowed. “As a result of the fact that American Airlines failed to reseat him or even offer a viable alternative, he suffered bodily injuries by contorting his body within the cramped space caused by the intrusion of the grossly obese passenger sitting next to him,” he said.
A spokesperson for American Airlines in a statement said, “We just received the lawsuit and we are reviewing the allegations.” Taylor’s claim comes amid growing concern over airlines shrinking seats and cutting back on legroom in order to cram more passengers onto flights. American Airlines recently announced that they are removing up to two inches of leg room in some passenger seats in the Economy class cabin in their new passenger aircraft.
The lawsuit also comes amid a growing row about the treatment of passengers by airlines in the United States, including a California family who were removed from their flight and threatened with having their children taken into care if they did not comply. United Airlines reached a settlement last week over a passenger who was dragged down the isle of one of its jets, after refusing to give up his seat.