Olympic Airways v. Husain, 540 U.S. 644, 10 (2004)

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Cite as: 540 U. S. 644 (2004)

Opinion of the Court

smoke in the aircraft's cabin. Consequently, we need not dispositively determine whether the flight attendant's conduct qualified as "unusual or unexpected" under Saks, but may assume that it was for purposes of this opinion.

Petitioner's focus on the ambient cigarette smoke as the injury producing event is misplaced. We do not doubt that the presence of ambient cigarette smoke in the aircraft's cabin during an international flight might have been "normal" at the time of the flight in question. But petitioner's "injury producing event" inquiry—which looks to "the precise factual 'event' that caused the injury"—neglects the reality that there are often multiple interrelated factual events that combine to cause any given injury. Brief for Petitioner 14. In Saks, the Court recognized that any one of these factual events or happenings may be a link in the chain of causes and—so long as it is unusual or unexpected—could constitute an "accident" under Article 17. 470 U. S., at 406. Indeed, the very fact that multiple events will necessarily combine and interrelate to cause any particular injury makes it difficult to define, in any coherent or non-question-begging way, any single event as the "injury producing event."

Petitioner's only claim to the contrary here is to say: "Looking to the purely factual description of relevant events, the aggravating event was Dr. Hanson remaining in his assigned non-smoking seat and being exposed to ambient smoke, which allegedly aggravated his pre-existing asthma-tic condition leading to his death," Brief for Petitioner 24, and that the "injury producing event" was "not the flight attendant's failure to act or violation of industry standards," Reply Brief for Petitioner 9-10. Petitioner ignores the fact that the flight attendant's refusal on three separate occasions to move Dr. Hanson was also a "factual 'event,' " Brief for Petitioner 14, that the District Court correctly found to be a " 'link in the chain' " of causes that led to Dr. Hanson's death, 116 F. Supp. 2d, at 1135. Petitioner's statement that the flight attendant's failure to reseat Dr. Hanson was not the


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