NEWS

Smoke death costs OA 1.4mln

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A US federal appeals court has upheld a $1.4 million verdict against Greece’s cash-strapped Olympic Airways as compensation for a California man with asthma who died from being exposed to cigarette smoke on an international flight. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said on Thursday that the family of Abid Hanson, who suffered an asthma attack on Flight 417 from Athens to New York in 1998, was entitled to the award.Hanson, who had chronic asthma, was seated in the non-smoking section three rows behind the smoking section and repeatedly asked to be moved further away. The airline refused and he died on the plane. His family sued and US District Court Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco awarded $1.4 million in damages. Olympic Airways attorney Andrew J. Harakas declined comment and said the airline was reviewing the decision. Breyer ruled that the carrier was liable under international treaties demanding compensation for those injured or killed during an «accident.» Breyer, in a decision upheld by the San Francisco-based appeals court, concluded that the accident was attributed to the flight attendant’s misconduct in not moving Hanson to a different seat after he complained. Olympic claimed that it was not liable because the death resulted not from an accident but from «internal reactions to the usual, normal and expected operation of the aircraft.» The carrier also said cabin smoke was «an expected and normal aspect of international air travel» and that Hanson may have died from food allergies. The appeals court found that failing to move Hanson «amounts to a dereliction of duty.»