Airlines are liable for DVT, appeal judges hear

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The Independent Online

Claimants seeking compensation for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) suffered by airline passengers went to the Court of Appeal yesterday in an attempt to overturn an earlier ruling blocking their claims.

Three judges are being asked to overturn a decision by Mr Justice Nelson in the High Court in December last year. He ruled that the condition was not an accident under the terms of the 1929 Warsaw Convention.

Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice Judge and Lord Justice Kay, were told that the appeal involved the cases of 24 claimants against 18 airlines. The airlines include British Airways, Qantas, Airtours International Airways, Monarch, JMC, Virgin Atlantic and Continental.

DVT is a blood clot, usually in the leg, which develops when movement is restricted. It can be fatal if the clot reaches the lungs or brain. Several British travellers have died after flights. They include 28-year-old Emma Christoffersen, from Newport, South Wales, who died from a blood clot after a 20-hour flight from Australia to Britain in 2000.

Counsel for the claimants, Stuart Cakebread, said that on the same day last year when the claims were blocked in Britain, an Australian court cleared the way for another group of passengers to sue airlines in a similar case.

Mr Cakebread said it was the claimants' case on appeal that "a cause of the DVT was an 'accident' within the meaning of Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention". He argued that "both the particular operation of the aircraft that causes the injury - the provision of cramped seating - and the failure to act are accidents".

The hearing continues.