Deep Vein Thrombosis and Air Travel Group Litigation; Re

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date20 December 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] EWHC 2825 (QB)
Date20 December 2002
CourtQueen's Bench Division

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

Before Mr Justice Nelson

In re Deep Vein Thrombosis and Air Travel Group Litigation

Negligence - "accident" as defined under Article 17 of the 1929 Warsaw Convention on International Carriage by Air, as scheduled to the Carriage by Air Act 1961 - test - Deep Vein Thrombosis on Airlines - European Convention on Human Rights is not an alterative remedy - Article 6 and Article 8 - EC Regulation 2027/97/EC on Air Carrier Liability in the event of accidents (OJ 1997 L285) - Morris v KLM Royal Dutch Airlines [2002] 2 WLR 578 - Air France v Saks (1985) 470 US 392

Deep vein thrombosis cannot be classified an accident

A culpable act or omission by an air carrier in failing to warn its passengers of the risk of deep vein thrombosis and in failing to provide less cramped seating throughout a flight, resulting in passengers suffering from DVT, did not amount to an "accident" under article 17 of the 1929 Warsaw Convention on International Carriage by Air, as scheduled to the Carriage by Air Act 1961.

Mr Justice Nelson, so held in the Queen's Bench Division, when dismissing a group litigation claim by 55 passengers against the defendants, a number of international air carriers.

Each of the claimants suffered a DVT, resulting in serious injury or death, alleged to have been caused by cramped seating conditions and a failure to warn of the danger posed by the flight or to advise of the appropriate steps to minimise or eliminate the dangers.

A specimen factual matrix was agreed for the purpose of the claim. Four claimants were time barred under the Convention and they argued EC Regulation 2027/97/EC on air carrier liability in the event of accidents (OJ 1997 L285) provided them with a separate cause of action.

It was implemented by the Air Carriers Liability Order (SI 1998 No 1571) and, they submitted, was intended to be a free-standing provision providing an alternatve cause of action to the Warsaw Convention and therefore not subject to the Convention two-year time limit but to the ordinary Limitation Act 1980 limits.

Mr Stuart Cakebread and Mr Christopher Pain for most claimants; Mr Guiseppe Cala for the time-barred claimants; Mr Robert Lawson for the carriers other than Qantas; Mr Bankim Thanki for Qantas.

MR JUSTICE NELSON said that the agreed facts did not disclose an accident under article 17 of the Warsaw Convention.

The test to be applied was that set out in Morris v KLM Royal Dutch AirlinesTLRWLR (The Times March 1, 2002...

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