November 26, 2012

If the airline "managed to get her over there," was it "obligated to get her home"?

So says the lawyer for an obese woman who died after the airline could not get her onto a plane in Hungary.
They spent several relaxing weeks at a vacation home they owned in the Hungarian countryside. It was a trip they took almost every year....
How many weeks? Did her condition change over that time? The lawyer "is mulling a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the airlines accusing them of violating laws protecting the disabled."
On the plane, the crew, with help from the local fire department, was unable to move her from her wheelchair to the three seats assigned to her. The captain ordered them off after 30 minutes of no success.
“We had 140 passengers on board, and they had connections and needed to travel,” said Lufthansa spokesman Nils Haupt. “The question was never the seat belt. The question was the mobility of the passenger.”

“She was very ill and did not trust that the hospitals in former communist Hungary could attend to her needs,” [the lawyer] said.
I'm sorry but this is a lawsuit I hope will fail. If you are that sick and that mobility-impaired and you insist on treatment only from your doctors in the United States, don't leave the country.

36 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

You gotta love the passive voice here:

Her illness, a combination of kidney disease and diabetes, caused her to gain water weight, and the airline said it didn’t have a seat-belt extender for her, Janos said.

Kidney disease and diabetes "caused" her "illness!"

Probably, the contrary is true. Stuffing her face caused the kidney disease and diabetes.

The poor girl! The 425 pounds just happened to her! Came out of nowhere! Like Cartman, she's probably big boned.

Ann Althouse said...

"Her illness, a combination of kidney disease and diabetes, caused her to gain water weight..."

That's the part that made me suspect that she got significantly bigger while on the vacation, undercutting the concept that the airline must be able to return what it got over there. The airline's capacity might have remained the same while the passenger changed.

bandmeeting said...

She was obviously in precarious health even before she went over there and hit the goulash big-time. She shouldn't have been travelling in the first place.

Having eaten her way to type 2 diabetes and the apparent subsequent loss of one leg I'd suppose she reduced by half the threat of an air travel induced pulmonary thrombosis.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is killing people and it is going to become an epidemic. If eating in this fashion has put you in the situation that you need 2 seats to get to Budapest and three to get back it is your fault, not the airlines.

rhhardin said...

Russia has overweight cargo aircraft for rent. The AN225 could do it.

You can charter it.

MadisonMan said...

If you can afford a vacation home in Hungary you can afford to charter a flight.

X said...

Hungary has a tax-funded universal healthcare system

Paul said...

So Jabba the Hut could not get BACK on the same kind of planes she came in on. Sounds like she stuffed herself while there.

Why should airlines be forced to cater to people with such extreme disabilities? I mean not just fat, not just obese, but MORBID beyond belief obese.

Yes I hope the lawsuit failes. And the family pays the cost of the suit!

Clyde said...

My mother always told me that if I couldn't say anything nice, I should say nothing at all.

Rather than speak unkindly of the dead, I'll do that instead.

MadisonMan said...

FWIW, I don't think she stuffed herself while in Hungary. I think the disease progressed and she retained a lot of water.

Why isn't he also suing the Doctor who told them it was okay for them to take this long vacation? It must be partially his fault (her?) too -- I mean, it's certainly not the husband or the wife's fault. That's clear! (eyeroll)

Roger Zimmerman said...

The airline should have offered her the opportunity to pay compensation to all of the other passengers for any delays they incurred due to her inability to be seated. This would have made the point that she was really demanding that _those_ people to pay for her health care, simply because they happened to have been scheduled on the same flight. Some of them probably were not even US citizens. Or, perhaps she could have made a call to the US Embassy and gotten assurance that the federal government would have payed the tab, thus spreading the cost over all American taxpayers, and mooting the equal protection issue.

Mitchell the Bat said...

If she gained that much water weight, it's a shame there weren't any Oompa Loompas around to roll her to the Juicing Room.

Levi Starks said...

How is a Staten Island ferry security guard able to afford a long vacation every year to Hungary?
AND
Why are you so nostalgic as to want to spend extended periods of time in a country so ravaged by socialism that you can't trust it's medical system?

EDH said...

Her days of arguing with shopkeepers are over.

David said...

But what about the right to travel? It's a fundamental human right even for very large people.

john said...

"Janos found Vilma dead two days later and buried her in Hungary."

He must have gone to the grocery store.

William said...

In her defense, it must be noted that many people in Hungary overeat. A similar phenomenon is observed among people named Dennis who become dentists. If they changed the name of the country to Anorexia, they would not be so troubled with obesity. Hungarian food is basically German food with paprkika. It doesn't completely suck, but there's no excuse for pigging out on it. It's not bbq.

Mike said...

I agree the suit should fail, but can we have a little sympathy for a woman who died painfully in a foreign country. Yes, we all think overeating is bad, but it's not a terrible crime. She didn't murder anyone or rob or defraud or assault. And yes she made a mistake going to. Hungary, but in her defense, she had been able to do it several times before., so she had reason to think it would work this time. Again, I agree the suit should fault, but can we have some sympathy for someone who made a few mistakes and paid a terrible price for them. I'm sure you have all made big mistakes that inconvenience others. I know I have. In this case her mistakes killed her where yours and mine have not yet.

edutcher said...

Maybe she's like The Blonde, for whom vacation is sacred.

Jim Howard said...

Even if you don't weigh 425 pounds it is a good idea to buy a medical evacuation insurance policy if you are traveling outside of the United States.

They don't cost much as a fraction of an overseas trip.

Had this unfortunate person had one she would have flown back in a business jet.

Bender said...

What an awful lot of "life unworthy of life" sentiment here. I guess the ObamaCare death panel mentality has infected a lot of people already.

No, it was not the fault of this person in need of medical treatment that the airlines on multiple occasions assured her that they could transport her. It was not her fault that they gave her the run-around.

Kidney disease and diabetes are very common ailments. And being overweight, even at 425, is not that much of a rarity. These are the types of things that a healthcare industry, including the transport of people needing treatment, should be able to handle easily, whether by EU standards or by US standards.

Yet, what we see instead is essentially that those most in need of care are going to be death paneled out, if not by the government lords of life and death, then by others along the line who shrug their shoulders and take the attitude of "it's not my responsibility, fall over and die for all I care."

Well, what goes around comes around folks. So you're next. When you are the one who is in need of help, expect that the response of others is going to be "screw you, it's your own damn fault."

XRay said...

"But what about the right to travel? It's a fundamental human right even for very large people."

I'd say the only "fundamental human right" to travel is on ones own two feet. All else is more of a privilege to my mind.

"..."screw you, it's your own damn fault.""

Without fully pondering this I'm sorta okay with it, along the lines of individual responsibility.


Michael said...

Bender. It appears that the airline did their level best to put this person on the plane. They failed. She was too big. Now we come to the "caring" argument which will guilt us if we do not agree to bring in a different type of aircraft to handle the too-big person or to delay our own connections and absorb the attendant cost while they try and try again.

Chip S. said...

While this argument seems problematic when applied to airlines, I think it's a good one for elevators.

Cedarford said...

Just so Bender is clear, she was morbidly obese last year as well, when she and Orca-Big hubby also went to Hungary and same as the year before and year before that.

Probably was aware the airlines had great difficulty accomodating her bulk and her husbands.

Probably the medical question came up with airlines, her own doctor.

Apparantly, she refused to get medical care while in Hungary, while in the Czech Republic waiting for a flight there that also could not fit her in, and finally Frankfurt Germany.

Moral - If you have an "extensive medical history" , have great past difficulty with travel as a very fat person, think only free NYC medical care is adequate (on her husbands cadillac Port Authority of NYC/NJ health plan), plan to refuse medical care in any country you visit....
Accept the consequences.

Cedarford said...

Just so Bender is clear, she was morbidly obese last year as well, when she and Orca-Big hubby also went to Hungary and same as the year before and year before that.

Probably was aware the airlines had great difficulty accomodating her bulk and her husbands.

Probably the medical question came up with airlines, her own doctor.

Apparantly, she refused to get medical care while in Hungary, while in the Czech Republic waiting for a flight there that also could not fit her in, and finally Frankfurt Germany.

Moral - If you have an "extensive medical history" , have great past difficulty with travel as a very fat person, think only free NYC medical care is adequate (on her husbands cadillac Port Authority of NYC/NJ health plan), plan to refuse medical care in any country you visit....
Accept the consequences.

Peter said...

"If the airline "managed to get her over there," was it "obligated to get her home"?"

It appears that life- hers and everyone's- is a one-way journey, from womb to tomb. Is this lawyer asserting that the client really deserved a round trip?

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

It is a dissociation of risk which sponsors progressive corruption. We should be concerned with improperly attributing and enforcing responsibility.

Bender said...

Is this lawyer asserting that the client really deserved a round trip?

What is sounds like he is asserting is that she relied upon the statements and actions of the airlines to her detriment. Having made those statements and taken those actions, the airlines voluntarily assumed a duty to conform to them and they are estopped now from washing their hands of the situation. The time to say "no" to this woman was before they flew her to Europe, not after.

Moreover, the claim that the airlines could not accomodate the weight-equivilent of two persons is specious. Airplanes are built to carry a lot more weight than that and the very fact that she was able to get to the airports is proof that she was transportable. If the airlines did not wish to transport her on a regular passenger aircraft, then they should have provided a special medical flight for her.

But like I said, don't complain when the same thing happens to you, when you have some ailment, but notwithstanding the promise of universal healthcare, you are essentially left to die on the street.

Amartel said...

I, too, hope this lawsuit fails. The airline, a common carrier, is not a doctor or obesity predictor. I don't see how they can be found to have that duty. It is no secret that airline travel is designed to accommodate a norm and this woman, by the time of her return trip, was outside the norm. The plaintiff's attorney's (typically) flippant remarks about the scope of the defendant's duty are based on unproven presumptions and made in the knowledge that all she has to do is cry dead wife/lonely husband for the next two years or so in order to get a pay off.
That being said, and even agreeing wholeheartedly with the assessment that this woman's overeating and death by overeating is her own responsibility, I think the barrage of fat jokes are out of line. This was a human being.

Petunia said...

No, the airline was not obliged to get her home. There is an article on the Daily Mail website with more recent photos of her...she is much larger than in the NY Post photos, and her husband appears to be smaller.

Her trip to Europe was ill-advised and her refusal to see a doctor in Hungary was monumentally stupid.

There are several ships doing trans-Atlantic crossings in the fall as they transition from European to Caribbean cruises. The couple could have gotten on one of those ships.

I feel badly for the man that his wife has died, but I hope he loses any lawsuit that he brings.

Jerome said...

I'm with Bender. The airlines sold her not one but two tickets, and then claimed they didn't have a long enough seat belt. Why didn't they? They knew well in advance that they would need it. And why all the hate on fat people? I hate slightly more than half of all American voters, and would cheerfully see them in Hungary or dead or both, but that's because they voted to rob and despoil me and eliminate my rights and liberties. This woman hurt no one, as far as I can see, and I feel sorry for her husband as well. Unless they voted for Obama.

XRay said...

"This was a human being."

For some reason this brings it to a crux for me. I'm a no late trimester but conflicted kinda okay with abortion type of guy.

This bleeding heart bullshit about "this was a human being", oh we're all so fucking cruel and inhumane talking shit about fat people.

How about that six month old fetus, is that person not a human being. Medicine commonly succeeds in bringing even five month old fetus's to adulthood. Yet we slaughter same without compunction with no mention of their being human beings.

So I'm supposed to care more about a worn out, obese, ignoramus than about the potential of a six month old human being in the womb.

Maybe I can't do that anymore.

DEEBEE said...

Sort of accentuates the world-wide negative image of americans -- fat, stupid and arrogant

bandmeeting said...

This thread is likely as dead as the woman being discussed but the Post has what is pretty much a word for word repeat of yesterday's story (which I find to be strange) with a new photo--likely the one Petunia is referring to--that shows that this woman should have been in a hospital, not attempting to board a jet. I find it impossible to believe she could have fit on a commercial plane even if they had removed the row in front of her. She would have needed triple size chair bottoms.

Sam L. said...

I had assumed they couldn't get her thru the door. Could have put her on a UPS/FedEx/DHL flight.