The infamous “Too Fat to Fly” $6 million suit against three airlines has been settled.
A widowed Bronx man resolved a lawsuit against Delta, Lufthansa and KLM Royal Dutch airlines in August, after his obese wife died in 2012 while waiting to be flown back to the United States from abroad, according to the Daily News.
Plaintiff, Janos Soltesz, 57, in his lawsuit against the airline companies, accused them of deliberately sending he and his wife on a “wild goose chase” from one airline to the next – and from country to country.
At the time, his spouse Vilma was confined to a wheelchair, had a partially-amputated leg and was morbidly obese at 407 pounds. The legal question in the lawsuit and settlement talks was: was the woman too fat to fly?
According to court documents on the civil liability case, the three airlines would not properly service the woman because she was too large to be accommodated. However, the man’s attorney believes there was no basis for that and bias was at play.
As a result of the harassment and continuous transfers, the woman died before she could return to the states and receive adequate treatment with a doctor for conditions related to her obesity.
Records in the so-called “fat suit” of the airlines show that the couple’s ordeal began in September of that year during a planned trip to their native country of Hungary.
They arrived without incident, but on October 2, Vilma began to feel ill. She was seen by a Hungarian doctor, who treated her and cleared her for a return trip home.
Two airline tickets were purchased. The plan was to see a doctor, who agreed to adjust the woman’s medication and write her a new prescription. Sadly, the woman never made it back home alive.
The lawsuit says that they first went to an airport in Budapest to board a KLM flight. However, they were told the two rear seats “were broken,” and it was not possible to secure her wheelchair in place.
“When informed of the problem, the KLM employees did not offer to change their seats,” the lawsuit against the airlines says.
After five hours of waiting in the terminal, they were informed Delta Airlines would take them to Prague the next day, according to court filings. However, the ride by car to the alternate airport was five hours.
The next day, they decided to arrive early by some seven hours. However, when they tried to board, representatives from Delta told them they did not have the proper wheelchair or equipment to transport her to the designated seating area and lock her in for the duration of the flight. As a consequence, they were asked to “disembark” from the plane as there was nothing else they could do.
The couple headed back to their vacation home and made arrangements with their travel agent for a flight home via Lufthansa Airlines, but they couldn’t depart no sooner than October 22 due to a lack of availability.
Reportedly, all necessary information regarding the need for special arrangements were discussed with flight representatives ahead of time. For the first time, it seemed all proper arrangements were made to get the obese flier home.
On the day of departure, a special flight crew and firefighters were in place with equipment to hoist the woman into an area of the plane.
However, the captain said they would have to cease operations because it was taking too long and other passengers needed to catch connecting flights. They were ordered off the plane, but it took nearly an hour.
During the trip back to their local home to sort things out, the woman began feeling ill. Communication with the travel agent was positive; they felt confident a flight would get them home over the next few days. Sadly, on October 24, the man found his wife unresponsive in her bed. She was dead — nine days after the time she was supposed to see her doctor in New York.
The man sued the three airlines for $6 million after it was alleged his wife was too fat to fly, and the air carriers did not do everything possible to accommodate them.
The charges argued by the man’s attorney said the airlines “intentionally refused to make the proper accommodations for her” over obesity bias.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the man’s lawsuit.
[Image via MailOnline screengrab]