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Landmark EU court ruling finds airline liable for hot coffee spilled on passenger

In 2015, a six-year-old girl flying from Palma de Mallorca to Vienna was badly scalded when her father’s coffee fell into her lap.

Image: Shutterstock

BURNS SUFFERED WHEN a cup of hot coffee spilled on a plane passenger were the result of an accident for which the airline is liable, Europe’s top court has ruled.

In 2015, a six-year-old girl flying from Palma de Mallorca to Vienna was badly scalded when her father’s coffee fell into her lap for unknown reasons.

The family demanded €8,500 from Niki Luftfahrt, the Austrian airline founded by former Formula One racing champion Niki Lauda.

The airline argued that a spill was not a “hazard typically associated with flight” and, as such, it was not covered as an accident under the Montreal Convention on international air transport.

But the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg found otherwise.

“The concept of ‘accident’ at issue covers all situations occurring on board an aircraft in which an object used when serving passengers has caused bodily injury to a passenger, without it being necessary to examine whether those situations stem from a hazard typically associated with aviation,” it ruled.

The ruling comes days after Irish Rail said that passengers travelling on its trains had to buy official Irish Rail reusable cups if they wanted to use them on board. 

In a statement, Irish Rail said it could not accept using passengers’ own keep cups for two reasons; for staff’s health and safety and also due to the fact that there was a limited supply of fresh water on the train.

© – AFP 2019 with reporting by Rónán Duffy

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