British Airways Pays £130,000 For Baileys Slip

Filed Under: British Airways

British Airways is being forced to pay £130,000 after a man slipped in a puddle of Bailey’s at Heathrow… but perhaps the case isn’t quite as frivolous as it sounds.

Details of the British Airways Heathrow Baileys slip

On November 11, 2017, Andreas Wuchner was flying from London Heathrow to Zurich with British Airways. While near the check-in desk, Wuchner slipped in a puddle of Baileys, and hit his head on the floor.

It’s claimed that the man suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the incident. Furthermore, he used to run an office supplies company, but that liquidated in September 2018, about 10 months after the accident occurred at Heathrow. The man is now suing British Airways for both injuries and a loss of earnings.

I’m curious about the logistics of the spill. How exactly did another passenger spill Baileys in the check-in hall? Did the person have an open container of liqueur, did the bottle fall and crack, or what?

Traveler awarded £130,000, seeking more

A judge has awarded Wuchner £130,000 under the Montreal Convention’s strict liability clause, which governs payouts for injuries suffered by passengers when traveling on international flights. This is the limit for compensation under the Montreal Convention, and that’s even for situations where there’s not found to be negligence.

If negligence on the part of British Airways can be proven, then that limit can be exceeded. That’s why Wuchner is now pushing ahead with a loss of earnings claim, since it’s alleged that his company liquidated in part due to this incident. Wuchner’s attorney wants to call in experts, like an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, and a pain management expert, to show that the slip had a major impact on his life.

Obviously I’m no lawyer, but it’s interesting to me that the airline is liable here, rather than the airport. On the surface you’d think the airport is responsible for maintaining terminal areas. It’s one thing if British Airways staff saw the mess but did nothing about it, but there’s no indication that anyone at the airline knew. I guess this comes down to the fact that passengers enter contracts with airlines, and not airports.

What the Montreal Convention says

The Montreal Convention governs many aspects of aviation, though I never fully realized just how broad consumer protections were. Surely airlines aren’t liable for every type of injury that could happen while traveling? Well, here’s what Chapter III Article 17 states:

“The carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.”

One has to wonder if there are any limitations to that, because it’s really, really broad…

Bottom line

British Airways is being forced to pay £130,000 after a man slipped in a Baileys puddle at a check-in counter, even though the airline hasn’t been found to be negligent. In the event the airline is found to be negligent, the man could be entitled to even more.

On the one hand, it seems like this guy suffered some serious consequences from the fall. On the other hand, the man is being awarded this even though British Airways hasn’t been found guilty of negligence.

What do you make of this British Airways Baileys case?

Comments
  1. BA might reclaim it from the airport authority. There’s another case where someone slipped on a petal by a florist at A London station and suffered serious injury claiming £1.5 million . The florist was deemed liable. Many times I’ve seen liquids , squished fruit and veg on supermarket floors that are accidents waiting to happen

  2. I had a passenger slip on the corridor leading to the jetway when boarding.

    The case was referred to me as the airline by the airport, claiming as it was on the jetway it was the airlines liability.

    It was on the corridor pre-jetway and the area had an engineers report for the condensation issue which caused the slip.

    I referred it back to the airport authority and their lawyers took on the liability.

    As Terminal 5 is the airport authority’s to operate and maintain, I would imagine that it will be referred back to them by BA, especially if a call for a cleaner had already been put in.

  3. The following is not meant to be insensitive.
    However,

    if only he had landed face first, perhaps he would not have remembered the incident.

  4. The Montreal jurisprudence is quite detailed and extensive in every country where it has been tested–which is just about all of them. The process of “embarking and disembarking” could be defined differently in each country depending on how the country’s courts have viewed it. It seems the British courts have taken an expansive view of the airline’s check-in podium liability as opposed to that of the terminal owner/operator. This and other type airline claims are reviewed at my work, R.D. Truitt, Plain Talk about Plane Claims: An Air Carrier Claims Examiner’s Handbook, 80 J. Air L. & Com. 449 (2015) https://scholar.smu.edu/jalc/vol80/iss2/6.

  5. I believe it might be a case that while happening at Heathrow , Heathrow Airport Holdings may not be the liable party if occurring at Terminal 5. British Airways may actually be the operator of the terminal, not simply the main tenant.

  6. Remember, LHR is owned by a for-profit company and T5 was essentially built for BA. Heathrow Group might have no janitorial responsibilities in T5 if they outsourced them to BA.

  7. @Marty

    And do you think a corporation would not exercise their legal rights, had they been wronged by the customer? Seems a little odd to ask people to “own their mistakes” when the company had breached their obligation.

  8. @David

    Ever heard of your mother telling you to “look where you are going”

    And if you step out in front of a car without looking, I suppose by your analysis, it’s the driver’s fault. What a bent way of thinking.

  9. @Marty

    Have you heard of a thing called the law? It has nothing to do with what is “right” or “wrong” by your standards, and everything to do with what is legally required of BA, the airport and/or the passenger.

    By your terrible analogy, I would absolutely sue the driver if I had right of way.

  10. We’ve all seen a spill somewhere in our travels. Of course if we can alert someone on staff about it is helpful.
    If no one to be found, we put a napkin or some tissue on it to show/warn others of a wet spot to avoid.

    Look its not much but we’re all in this world together, alittle thing like that might be able to save someone else alot of suffering.

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