Olympic Airways v. Husain, 540 U.S. 644, 9 (2004)

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next



Opinion of the Court

term "accident" as encompassing more than unintentional conduct.

The Court focused its analysis on determining "what causes can be considered accidents," and observed that Article 17 "embraces causes of injuries" that are "unexpected or unusual." Id., at 404, 405. The Court did not suggest that only one event could constitute the "accident," recognizing that "[a]ny injury is the product of a chain of causes." Id., at 406. Thus, for purposes of the "accident" inquiry, the Court stated that a plaintiff need only be able to prove that "some link in the chain was an unusual or unexpected event external to the passenger." Ibid.


Petitioner argues that the "accident" inquiry should focus on the "injury producing event," Reply Brief for Petitioner 4, which, according to petitioner, was the presence of ambient cigarette smoke in the aircraft's cabin. Because petitioner's policies permitted smoking on international flights, petitioner contends that Dr. Hanson's death resulted from his own internal reaction—namely, an asthma attack—to the normal operation of the aircraft. Petitioner also argues that the flight attendant's failure to move Dr. Hanson was inaction, whereas Article 17 requires an action that causes the injury.

We disagree. As an initial matter, we note that petitioner did not challenge in the Court of Appeals the District Court's finding that the flight attendant's conduct in three times refusing to move Dr. Hanson was unusual or unexpected in light of the relevant industry standard or petitioner's own company policy. 116 F. Supp. 2d, at 1133. Petitioner instead argued that the flight attendant's conduct was irrelevant for purposes of the "accident" inquiry and that the only relevant event was the presence of the ambient cigarette

"wilful misconduct" is best read to be included within the realm of conduct that may constitute an "accident" under Article 17.

Page:   Index   Previous  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007