08/12/2005

DVT victims lose Lords appeal case

The House of Lords has ruled that deep vein thrombosis (DVT) victims may not seek compensation from airlines.

The test case for eight victims and their families had sought the right to sue airlines for DVT, but the Law Lords have ruled that the airlines are only liable for accidents and that DVT does not fall into this category.

The sufferers had claimed that the, sometimes fatal, condition had been caused by cramped conditions on flights and that airlines should have issued warnings about the condition.

However, the case which focused on the definition of the word 'accident' under the terms of article 17 of the Warsaw Convention, is now likely to be brought to the European Courts.

Previous cases have found that airlines, which are bound by the Warsaw Convention, are liable for accidents which are defined as an occurrence outside the ordinary.

Making the ruling, Lord Scott Of Foscote, said: "…an event or happening which is no more than the normal operation of the aircraft in normal conditions cannot constitute an article 17 accident…"

Commenting on the appeal British Airways, in a statement today, said that it was "pleased the House of Lords has recognised in its ruling that legal action against British Airways, and other airlines, is unfounded under the terms of the Warsaw Convention in relation to claims for compensation for the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)".

However, the airline said it sympathised with those who suffered from DVT and that the health and well-being of its customers remained of "paramount importance".

British Airways said it would continue to provide "advice and information" to its customers through information in ticket wallets, on the internet, on-board videos, over the phone and in its in-flight magazine.

(SP/KMcA)

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