USA: airline's motion for summary judgement in trip and fall case denied

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

When the plaintiff made his way to join a line of passengers at the gate at Schiphol airport for boarding a KLM flight, he tripped over a low lying metal bar similar in color to the floor and fell.  The plaintiff alleged in his complaint that he sustained a fractured elbow as a result of the fall and that, under the Montreal Convention, KLM was liable for USD 3 million in damages.

KLM moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff was not injured while “embarking” and that, even if he was, his injury was not caused by an “accident” within the meaning of Article 17(1) of the Montreal Convention.

The court denied KLM’s motion.  The court ruled that a reasonable jury could conclude the plaintiff was injured while “embarking” because the incident occurred while the airline was “exercising control” over the plaintiff. A reasonable jury could also find that the plaintiff’s trip and fall was an “accident” under Article 17(1), although the court admitted that this was the “more difficult question.”

Case: Walsh v. Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 12, 2011)

Full text of opinion avialable at New York Law Journal here>> (premium access required).

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