Aer Lingus is suing one of its passengers alleging the man removed his baggage from an overhead bin with “such force and in such a manner” that it dislodged a bag containing a bottle of Duty-Free alcohol which fell from the and bin and hit the head of a woman sitting in front of him. The woman claims the injury has left her with a permanent dent in her head, as well as vertigo, concussion and migraines.
A lawsuit was originally filed against Aer Lingus by Felicia Nelson in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut following the May 26, 2018 incident on board Aer Lingus flight AI131 from Bradley International Airport in Hartford to Dublin.
In her lawsuit, Nelson claimed the airline was strictly liable for the accident and should pay damages under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention. Nelson accused Aer Lingus of failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of its passengers and failing to inspect the overhead lockers prior to departure.
She also claimed flight attendants operating the flight failed to ensure the overhead lockers didn’t contain “improper items” and that items in the lockers were properly packed to ensure items didn’t fall out. Nelson further claimed the flight attendants didn’t supervise passengers accessing the overhead compartments.
Under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, an airline is “liable for damage sustained in the case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.”
But in the last few weeks, lawyers acting on behalf of Aer Lingus have filed a third-party complaint against Joseph Lorenzo alleging his actions are solely responsible for the injuries that Nelson sustained.
Around 20 minutes after takeoff, Lorenzo allegedly got up from his seat, opened the overhead locker and “negligently, recklessly, or intentionally removed his baggage with such force and in such a manner as to dislodge the duty-free bag and cause it and its contents to fall into” Nelson who was sat in the seat directly in front of his.
Aer Lingus explains that flight attendants weren’t around in the cabin to supervise passengers because they were all gathered in the galley preparing the service.
Lawyers for the airline say Aer Lingus can’t be held responsible because Lorenzo was in “sole control” of the situation and flight attendants were not in a position to stop him. If, however, the court does find Aer Lingus partly responsible they are petitioning for responsibility for the damages to be split with Lorenzo.
Aer Lingus declined to comment on the court action on Tuesday.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.