Deep Vein Thrombosis Lawsuits Against US Airways, Delta Allowed To Continue

Three airline passengers who claim that cramped seating gave them deep vein thrombosis can continue with their lawsuits against Singapore, Delta and US Airways, a judge ruled.

The same judge (who previously threw out 37 similar lawsuits, claiming that an international treated protected airlines from paying damages stemming from routine travel), ruled that these three lawsuits were different because they alleged that the airline negligently caused injuries by not allowing passengers complaining of pain to move to open seats with more legroom.

Walker on Friday also dismissed 14 other lawsuits against domestic airlines not bound by the international treaty. An appeals court has ordered him to separately reconsider whether the airlines are providing enough seating space or would raise fares if forced to remove seats to make cabins roomier.

Air passengers claiming blood clots can sue airlines [IHT]
(Photo:Keenan Pepper)

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  1. gatopeligroso says:

    You’re kidding me right? YOU ARE THE CONSUMER! Not happy with the service, take YOUR MONEY elsewhere.

  2. Buran says:

    Why not just install roomier seats with enough room to easily get past sleepers in the aisle seats so that it’s easier to follow the recommendation and get up and walk around once an hour? They know the recommendation and they know that cramped seats are unsafe but are not doing anything to address the problem.

  3. Buran says:

    @gatopeligroso: Uh, find an airline that offers seats that aren’t too cramped and do let us know, hmm? ALL airlines have too-small seats. “Go elsewhere” doesn’t help when there’s nowhere to go.

  4. sonichghog says:

    If I am reading this correctly, then if there were no empty seats available then they would NOT be able to sue?

    Seats are fine, I weigh 230 and I fit fine in an airline seat. How big were these complainers 400+?

  5. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @gatopeligroso: Going elsewhere because all the airlines have the same bs seats…? I am 6’2 and I usually spend at least 3/4 of the flight in severe knee pain.

  6. topgun says:

    Fer cryin’ out loud. Next it will be the makers of compact cars. Get a grip people. No wonder attorneys are bottom feeders. Try having a legitimate case and see how far you get. The company I work for makes a product that couldn’t hurt you if a 1,000 of them fell on you, yet we carry a huge amount of liability insurance. We all end up paying for these whiners.

  7. sonichghog says:

    If you want more space fly first class. Or now, just buy coatch and threaten to sue if they don’t just put you in first class for free…….

  8. sonichghog says:

    At least thats what this sounds like.

  9. Mojosan says:

    Sonichghog,

    Exactly. If there is not enough room in coach, buy a first class ticket. Or charter your own plane. Or walk to your destination.

    If you dont like the airlines you’re welcome to complain, vote with your pocketbook, and tell your friends. Suing them is asinine and just makes money for the lawyers.

    This is ridiculous and will only lead to higher proces for the rest of us.

  10. pine22 says:

    get up and stretch every once and a while, dont just sit there for the whole flight.

  11. topgun says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer:
    Does that mean that 1/4 of the time you’re only in moderate pain? I’m 6’2, #225 and can’t say I’ve ever suffered like you with severe knee pain on an airline. Actually the last time I ever had any type of knee pain was when I gave some whiney ass guy a shot with my knee in the nads. Man-up.

  12. Galls says:

    @gatopeligroso:

    Um where?

    What alternatives.

    I am in shape but 6’8″ and flying is my only choice on many occasions. It is a shame that the government has forsaken public transportation in the name of capitalism. In a fair capitalism society competition among airlines would work, but in our system it does not.

  13. Beerad says:

    Ummmm, do any of you people up in arms about this understand how deep vein thrombosis works? The complaint isn’t “gee, this seat is uncomfortable,” it’s “gee, this seat seems to have been designed in such a way as to cause blood clots to form in my legs, which have a nasty habit of breaking free into my bloodstream and causing pulmonary embolism and possibly death.” And in these specific lawsuits, it’s that there were apparently free open seats with better legroom that the passengers were not allowed to move to.

    Sure, if you want first-class amenities, you have to pay for them, I agree. But is it too much to ask that coach class not endanger your life?

  14. dirty foreigner says:

    @Buran: Oh you mean you don’t all have private jets? You proletariat are a adorable.

  15. DrGirlfriend says:

    I may be wrong, admittedly, but I thought that a recommended way to avoid DVT was to get up and walk up and down the cabin every hour or so. If there is such an alternative, why would being unable to move to another seat be a good basis for this lawsuit?

    But I agree with a previous comment that right now anyone not sitting in an aisle seat can have trouble getting around a sleeping passenger.

  16. sixseeds says:

    @DrGirlfriend: Keep in mind that since 9/11 walking around the cabin is generally not allowed. And on some planes, the seats ARE so closely spaced that many people can’t do those exercises they recommend for your feet and legs if you’re stuck in a narrow space for several hours.

    I’m short, so flying isn’t the ordeal for me that it is for my taller (if skinnier) friends, but even if you get that aisle seat keeping your legs out means tripping the flight attendants and every poor chump going to the bathroom.

  17. topgun says:

    @Beerad:
    I’m guessing gravity has killed more airline passengers than the seats. I’ll bet God has the best lawyers though. No, wait they’re all in the other place.

  18. sonichghog says:

    @Beerad: If you are TOO BIG to fit in coatch then fly First Class or Business class. Sure its a problem if you are tall. But if you are too fat, then lay off the twinkes if you have to fly coatch.

  19. bestuser says:

    there’s more than one way to prevent DVT. people at risk for DVT should be getting up themselves to walk at least every 2 hours. this should be done EVEN IF THERE IS LEG ROOM IN YOUR SEAT. eg: pregnant women should stop and walk around every two hours if on a long road trip. there are ways to move your legs and help venous return without getting up. you can flex your calves and move your feet in certain ways. it’s ridiculous to expect the airline workers to know about DVT. it’s also ridiculous that people want to blame others for their own negligent behavior leading to their health problems.

  20. sixseeds says:

    @sonichghog: The issue is not weight. It is BLOOD CLOTS. I’m 5’2″ and 100 lbs, and under the right conditions I could develop a blood clot that would kill me. Did you even reed Beerad’s comment? Or do you just like trolling sites to leave nasty comments about fat people?

  21. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @topgun: Um suck my balls. I have had 2 knee surgeries on my left and 3 on my right. And BTW I sustained the more severe injury from an accident while I was in the middle east serving the country. So man up yourself.

  22. sonichghog says:

    Yes I read it. What you are saying is that these people FIT FINE in there seats then. Just just did not want to get up and move around.

    There case is done then, the seat size is fine, its completely there own fault…..

  23. topgun says:

    @sonichghog:
    It’s spelled coach. Get it right.
    @sixseeds:
    I for one DO like to troll sites and leave nasty comments. But everybody is fair game. I’m not prejudice, although short pagan Goths are my favorites.

  24. sonichghog says:

    @sixseeds: Oh, I did say I was 230. I am fat, and I fit in the seats.

  25. sonichghog says:

    @topgun: oops

  26. Galls says:

    Top Gun getting bitched by Nemesis_Enforcer

    Personally Nemesis, I will let you take my cherished bulkhead seat any day of the week.

  27. bilge says:

    I wonder if any of these folks are the sort who drug themselves so they can sleep from wheels up to wheels down.

  28. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Galls: Lol thanks. I normally don’t advertise my disabeled status. Heck I don’t even have one of those disabeled parking placards, even though legally I am entitled to one. I let the real disabeled people have ‘em.I take whatever seat I can get and go for it.

  29. Beerad says:

    @bestuser: “It’s ridiculous to expect the airline workers to know about DVT”? Are you kidding? You don’t think the airline industry has been informed about what’s been termed “economy class syndrome”? And as someone else has noted, flight crews don’t exactly encourage passengers to stroll around the cabin or do calisthenics in the aisles. I’m not sure what “negligent behavior” you’re referring to beyond the misfortune of having to travel by air these days.

    @topgun: “I’m guessing gravity has killed more airline passengers than the seats.” Yep, and you’d be totally guessing, because when elderly Mrs. McGillicuddy dies from a heart attack one and a half weeks after her cross-country flight, the cause of death gets listed as “pulmonary embolism” and not “flew coach class”. It’s hard to compile statistics like that, but it doesn’t mean there’s no connection.

    @sonichghog: Maybe the passengers “didn’t want to get up and move around” because the airline doesn’t exactly advertise that the seats are so cramped they can cause a dangerous medical condition.

  30. sonichghog says:

    @Beerad: THAT MAY BE TRUE> But the article seems to point out that they just wanted seats with more room.

    From the article:But Walker said the three remaining lawsuits claiming deep vein thrombosis could proceed because they allege injuries that could have been prevented if the airlines – Singapore, U.S. Airways and Delta – let passengers complaining of pain switch to open seats with more leg room.

  31. DoctorMD says:

    Im sick of the lame excuse “you don’t have to fly”. OK I don’t want to fly. I’ll just hop on a high speed train. Oh wait we don’t have those so there is no other reasonable option for long distance travel.

    Next patients with cancer should sue the airline for not warning them of the radiation exposure. If you X-ray a pregnant woman and the baby has any problems which are common anyway you are liable for millions. Yet a round trip polar fight has a exposes the baby to more radiation than the X-ray and no one cares.

  32. mandarin says:

    I would blame whoever made the planes… The airlines dont really have any control on how the seats are set up..
    If you want more legroom, go first class.

  33. Buran says:

    @mandarin: Actually, they do. Plane designers release concepts all the time of planes that have plenty of room, bars, lounges, you name it, and have you seen that sort of thing in actual service?

    No.

    Because the airlines don’t ask for them to be installed.

    You’ve got it backwards.

  34. Galls says:

    @mandarin:

    Yes they do, the airlines have direct control of how many rows are in a plane.

    And to all the people claiming first class and not fly are a viable alternative. What humanist philosophical black hole crawl your way out of?

  35. Keter says:

    DVT can occur under a variety of conditions, but sitting in a seat that doesn’t fit properly and constricts circulation is one of the most conducive to DVT. And no, you cannot walk about on an aircraft unless you have to go to the head. But imagine what it would be like if everyone got up once an hour and walked around for a minute…even in rotation, it can’t be done, there are too many people.

    @Topgun aka Cornholio…you have too much time on your hands today, don’t you? ;o)

  36. UpsetPanda says:

    I have NEVER been on a flight (even since 9/11) where you couldn’t walk around the cabin at least for just a few seconds. Heck, going to the bathroom (unless you’re next to it) takes a few seconds, when you have to get past people, stop to let other people get past you, etc. If you’re really pressed for activity, store stuff in the overhead compartment and get it later.

    I was on a 9 hour flight and walked around quite frequently. In fact, the flight attendants on the plane set up a little drink station and encouraged passengers to get soda, water and juice at their own desire. Since there were only two of such stations in the main coach cabins, people had to get up and walk.

    I’m 5’3 but on that same flight, I admit my left knee did start to ache. I could stick my right leg out and stretch it, but couldn’t do the same with my left leg. I’m glad I’ve never had to sit in the middle.

  37. topgun says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer:
    Suck my balls? That is so gay. My personal opinion is that you couldn’t find Iraq on a map with all the other countries erased. I guess I’m saying that IN MY OPINION, you’re lying. Real soldiers don’t whine. If you did serve I apologize and you have my utmost respect, minus the whining. If you’re using that to justify your wimpy existence … a pox on you.
    @Beerad:
    May I re-phrase that? I KNOW more people died from gravity.That’s like me saying I have high blood pressure from douche bags.
    Hey lets all get together for a beer.

  38. fishing-ace says:

    @Beerad:

    You are not entirely correct. That is not what causes DVTs. An airline seat does no more to promote/hinder DVT formation than a recliner or any other type of chair; the mechanism of DVT is the same in all cases. DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) occurs usually in the leg veins and is caused by a number of contributing factors such as venous stasis (slowed/ceased movement of blood), hypercoagulable state and endothelial damage. Anytime you are sitting down (or even lying down) for long periods of time, you are at risk for venous stasis.

    ***Lack of leg room is >> a direct cause of DVT. Patients in the hospital who have all the leg room they want (they have their own beds) are at risk of getting DVT because they are bed ridden and thus they stay immobile and blood pools in their legs, leading to reduced flow. As a flyer, the two most important things you can do to avoid DVT are: 1) get up and walk around, it keeps the blood in those veins moving, and 2) drink lots of fluids, it helps for the same reason.

    FA

  39. topgun says:

    @Keter:
    You’re right. And the fact that I wasn’t breast fed as a baby makes me so damn aggressive. I guess if there is reincarnation I’m coming back as a cat so I can fuck with mice.

  40. fishing-ace says:

    @Beerad:

    let me edit my comments…

    You are not entirely correct. That is not what causes DVTs. An airline seat does no more to promote/hinder DVT formation than a recliner or any other type of chair; the mechanism of DVT is the same in all cases. DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) occurs usually in the leg veins and is caused by a number of contributing factors such as venous stasis (slowed/ceased movement of blood), hypercoagulable state and endothelial damage. Anytime you are sitting down (or even lying down) for long periods of time, you are at risk for venous stasis.

    ***Lack of leg room is > a direct cause of DVT. Patients in the hospital who have all the leg room they want (they have their own beds) are at risk of getting DVT because they are bed ridden and thus they stay immobile and blood pools in their legs, leading to reduced flow. In fact, a lack of leg room, if it causes you to squirm around a lot(and keeps your legs moving) would probably PREVENT DVT’s compared to a comfortable seat where your legs never move (sad right?). As a flyer, the two most important things you can do to avoid DVT are: 1) get up and walk around, it keeps the blood in those veins moving, and 2) drink lots of fluids, it helps for the same reason.

    FA

  41. fishing-ace says:

    last try here…the formatting is weird.

    You are not entirely correct. That is not what causes DVTs. An airline seat does no more to promote/hinder DVT formation than a recliner or any other type of chair; the mechanism of DVT is the same in all cases. DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) occurs usually in the leg veins and is caused by a number of contributing factors such as venous stasis (slowed/ceased movement of blood), hypercoagulable state and endothelial damage. Anytime you are sitting down (or even lying down) for long periods of time, you are at risk for venous stasis.

    ***Lack of leg room is *NOT* a direct cause of DVT. Patients in the hospital who have all the leg room they want (they have their own beds) are at risk of getting DVT because they are bed ridden and thus they stay immobile and blood pools in their legs, leading to reduced flow. In fact, a lack of leg room, if it causes you to squirm around a lot(and keeps your legs moving) would probably PREVENT DVT’s compared to a comfortable seat where your legs never move (sad right?). As a flyer, the two most important things you can do to avoid DVT are: 1) get up and walk around, it keeps the blood in those veins moving, and 2) drink lots of fluids, it helps for the same reason.

    FA

  42. sixseeds says:

    @sonichghog and @all the people complaining that passengers are lazy: Since 9/11 a lot of airlines have policies that prohibit walking around the cabin. It’s *dangerous* behavior, lord knows what you could be planning.

    Believe me when I say I would have loved nothing more than a quick aisle stroll on my last 17-hour flight. But I had to do those unsatisfying stretching exercises instead b/c I didn’t want anyone looking at me suspiciously, or worse.

  43. topgun says:

    @fishing-ace:
    I always drink lots of fluids on a flight.

  44. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @topgun: Well skippy I really couldn’t give 2 shits and a fuck about your opinion. I know where I was and what I was doing for over 5 years of my life. BTW it didn’t happen in Iraq, it happened in Saudi .

    Last time I checked stating personal experiance in a rational way wasn’t whining. I have been known to whine occasionally but this isn’t one of those times.

  45. DrGirlfriend says:

    I have to say, I have flown about a dozen times since 9/11 and walking a lap up and down the aircraft a couple of times has never been forbidden. Walking around a bit is recommended, iirc, for flights longer than 3 or so hours. The flights I have been on have been a minimum of 4, and again, I’ve never been told I couldn’t get up to stretch my legs.

    I can understand that having all passengers do that would be messy, but the reality is that not everyone does it. It is an alternative that people have, and if the alternative is there I’m not sure how a lawsuit could go forth. But hey, not only am I not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV either. And I for one wish airlines would actually consider passenger comfort, even just a little. I’m just not sure if this is going to do it.

  46. Zosyn says:

    I imagine the ones that dont understand hoe someone can be painfully uncomfortable and are even angry on his issue are…well… probably SHORT.

    Lets get the issue out in the open …little men:)

    Just because you guys are all comfortable..legs dangling over the seat..feet not touching the ground..not able to see over the seat in front of you

    As a previous poster noted the conditions that predispose someone to DVT (statis, prothrombotic state, vascular injury..otherwise known as Virchow’s Triad)

    Alot of other factors play into this(obesity, smoking, dehydration, etc.)..and “Economy class” DVTs DO happen.

  47. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    If you want more legroom, you need to tell those shareholders to shut the fuck up. They’re the ones that are demanding “MONEY, MONEY, MORE MONEY!!!!”

  48. jamar0303 says:

    Some airlines are better about it than others, at least. Try flying a Japanese airline if possible. And people flying NYC-DC, DC-Boston, or NYC-Boston should really take Amtrak instead- let them know that there is indeed desire for a high-speed rail system. If only America wasn’t so short-sighted- Japan’s high-speed rail was built precisely because the railway company saw past the short-term lack of profits and on to long-term benefits.

  49. Chicago7 says:

    WTF? Doesn’t EVERYBODY know by now that you have to get up once in a while and move around so you don’t get deep vein thrombosis?

    This has been known for 10 years now.

    This is like cigarette smokers who started in the past 20 years claiming “I didn’t know”

  50. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @topgun:
    @Nemesis_Enforcer:

    OK, guys — please take the flamewar elsewhere.

  51. JayDeEm says:

    You can check out each airline’s seat layout ahead of time at [www.seatguru.com] I’m 6’3″ 260 lbs but I always manage to find a decent seat by researching ahead of time. It’s a little obsessive, but if I’m going to be in that seat for 3-4 hours it’s worth it. I’ve also found airlines I never knew existed because of that site, ones that don’t show up on expedia.

  52. mconfoy says:

    @gatopeligroso: Most that got it are probably dead. It is unusual to survive.

  53. Her Grace says:

    My crippled girlfriend is coming with me to the US from Australia for a vacation. She is a huge risk for DVT (and has had clots before), having cerebral palsy. Funnily enough, the same CP that makes her a risk for DVT makes it difficult for her to get up and walk around. Not everyone CAN get up and go for a stroll, even if they feel comfortable doing so. This is especially true if you’re trapped in the middle seat of a huge plane like the 767 (I think?) that is used for cross-pacific travel. We managed to get a pair of seats together at the back, and I’ve tried to get bulkhead so she can move her legs. No such luck. Even for a medical reason, they won’t give it to us.

  54. MystiMel says:

    For people saying the seats aen’t THAT cramped .. thee is a HUGE difference in the legroom of international and domestic flights … IE domestic flights actually have some. I flew to Japan in coach. I’m 5’5″ and my knees were touching the seat in front of me.

    Now my recommendation for international flights is … Get the exit seats if you can, They’re way better. After my flight to Japan I had horrible leg cramping because I was in a middle seat and I couldn’t get up to move around often enough. On the flight back the flight attendant offered an exit seat though and it was great. I could stretch my legs out tons and when I was done with my meals I was able to put them on the floor in front of me instead of being trapped until they came to pick up the empty trays. I also didn’t have to step all over the people next to me to get out of my seat. Sadly it wouldn’t be a good idea for a disabled person, only because if you sit there, you have to be able to help people off of the plane if there’s an emergency.

  55. andymadrid1 says:

    Yes, I’m bi-coastal and fly a lot! I’m 6’2″ 215 and really suffer in those seats. It is unlawful to cause so much pain with any remedy. There is a guy above claiming to be 6’2″ saying he has never had a problem, but I’m thinking he’s exaggerating his size, a lot of guys do. If I had a dollar for every shorty claiming to be 6’2″….

  56. JMH says:

    Wow, didn’t take long for this thread to become an anti-lawyer whinefest.

  57. the_mdg says:

    I think I’m going to sue the airlines for the POSSIBILITY of me getting deep vein thrombosis. This lawsuit is about that ridiculous. Ever heard of periodically getting up and walking around?? Sheesh.