An Australian passenger man is suing American Airlines for $100,000, alleging being forced to sit next to two obese men on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles aggravated his existing health problems. He also claims the flight crew would not let him change seats.
Michael Anthony Taylor, 67, took a 14-hour American Airlines flight from Australia to LA in December 2015. He filed his lawsuit in the Federal Court of Australia on Wednesday.
Taylor suffers from scoliosis or curvature of the spine. In his claim he alleges having to sit next to the two obese men on the plane for 14 hours aggravated his condition and as a result, he now has permanent back and neck pain.
Taylor was assigned a window seat. The fact the two men sitting next to him were obese caused the passenger sitting in the middle seat to spill over into his space. This caused Taylor to have to crouch, kneel, stand or brace himself throughout the entire lengthy flight.
Taylor holds no ill will against is fellow passengers, saying they paid for their seats. Thomas Jensen, Taylor’s lawyer, said his client constantly asked the flight crew if he could change seats but they refused to let him; nor did they suggest any alternatives. Jansen also said if his client is successful there will be a lot more lawsuits launched around the world against various airlines. It could change the way seating on planes is designed.
Taylor’s lawsuit comes at a time when American Airlines announced legroom on its new Boeing 737s is being reduced. Three rows of the plane will see the pitch, the distance between the backs of seats, shrink from 31 to 29 inches.
The room will be reduced by one inch in all other economy class rows. The reduction will allow the airline to add additional seats and take in more revenue. American defends to move by saying the changes maximizes seat size and legroom.
It is also reported American is considering doing the same thing on its older 737s. The announcement of the reduction in room comes at a time when major airlines are under fire after videos surfaced showing passengers removed from planes for what appears to be no good reason.
American Airlines has 28 days to file a defense to Taylor’s statement of claim. So far, the airline has not commented publicly about the incident.