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Woman Sues Airline For $170K Over Spilt Coffee



/ 4 years ago

spilt_coffee

It is something that we are always warned about – be careful with hot coffee because spilling it can be dangerous. This is something Lourdes Cervantes found out when travelling on Continental Airlines. The Texan was making a flight from Madrid, Spain to Newark, USA and had some coffee in flight. The flight attendant place a cup of hot coffee onto her table when the passenger in front reclined their chair resulting in boiling hot coffee being spilt all over Cervantes. The result was second-degree burns to her thighs and “permanent scarring and disfiguration” according to the lawsuit.

Lourdes Cervantes is now suing Continental Airlines for a staggering $170,550 (€131,394) in damages even though Continental Airlines staff were not responsible for the spillage. The reason for Continental Airlines still being liable is explained by the LA Times who broke this news:

“The suit cites the Montreal Convention of 1999, which makes carriers on international flights liable, under certain conditions, for injuries or deaths of passengers on such flights”

Continental Airlines have refused to comment due to company policy about pending litigations. What do you think about this case? Should she be suing Continental Airlines, the person who reclined their chair or is it just an unfortunate event of which she accepted the risk when she chose to get a coffee?

Image courtesy of event supplies


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  • Magnus

    Sometimes I wish stupidity was illegal. This is one of those times.
    It’s getting beyond a joke how people take the piss out of company responsibility. She should barely be able to sue $170 from them, let alone $170,000. It’s her own damn fault for reclining her chair WHILE the attendant was pouring her coffee.

    • Nifra

      I think you misread.

      It was the passenger in front who reclined the seat (while the attendant was pouring coffee in the cup, on the table that’s attached to the seat in front). It’s just an accident and bad luck.

      Sucks for the company.. Like what are they going to do, fix the chairs so they can’t recline anymore to prevent spills? Might be worth sacrificing the comfort of passengers rather than being fined another 170k though.

      • Guest

        Yes, I did misread it. Unfortunately I have no way to amend my comment.

    • Magnus

      Correction, it should be the passenger in front getting in the shit, since they were the one who reclined the chair, thus resulting in the boiling coffee being spilled all over Cervantes.

    • michael

      I too wish that stupidity was illegal, then the internet would not be full of people having knee-jerk reactions to things like this.

      As for this incident, the Airline is entirely to blame as everything leading up to the accident took place on their aircraft. On every flight I have ever taken, the stewards always poured the coffee into a cup on their cart before handing it over to me, or they held the cup in one hand and poured into it with the other.

      As for the amount of $170,000, if she truly has been left with severe scarring and a need for surgery, then the airline should count themselves fortunate Mrs/Miss Cervantes is only suing them for $170k and not a heck of a lot more.

      • Chris Arxon Dennison

        The Airline isn’t at fault. eteknix messed up the article. “She claims in the court document that a flight attendant was placing a hot cup of coffee on the seat-back tray in front of her when the passenger in the seat in front reclined, sending the coffee spilling onto her lap.” that is from the L.A. Times. Who ever wrote this article needs to rewrite it. As for you Michael, the coffee was in the cup being placed on the table when the passenger in front reclined the chair back. So in fact it is the passenger in front who is to blame not the air line.

        • Lol if you read our article you will see it says “the flight attendant poured coffee for her into a cup on her table when the passenger in front reclined their chair resulting in boiling hot coffee being spilt all over Cervantes”

          And the reason why she is suing the airline not the passenger in front is because “The suit cites the Montreal Convention of 1999, which makes carriers on international flights liable, under certain conditions, for injuries or deaths of passengers on such flights”

          So in future I suggest you read properly before attacking our article for being wrong when it is not, and attacking other people for being wrong (Michael) when he is not.

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            This article and the original which I quoted are different.

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            Get your facts straight when quoting from another news source.

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            As for redesigning the seats… that comes from the people who made the plane not the people who bought the plane.

          • VisualAudio

            Like a vehicle, if you buy it outright you have the liability to maintain it. The airline own the aircraft.

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            Maintain yes, design flaw no.

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            I’ll break it down for you Ryan.

            L.A. Times – ” placing a hot cup of coffee on the seat-back tray”

            eteknix – ” poured coffee for her into a cup on her table”

            Is this really that hard for you to grasp?

          • The difference is very marginal indeed. Either way we are still saying the chair in front reclining caused the spillage not the flight attendant. I will fix it since it seems to mean so much to you to point out every marginal detail.

          • Arxon

            the details are what keep you from a sub standard website and a top notch website.

          • TheInternet

            These comments are what make you a sub standard reader, if eTeknix are that bad, why are you even here?

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            This has nothing to do with being a sub-standard reader. It has to do with quality.

          • Yes okay we get the idea by, can we all just drop this whole issue. You found a discrepancy in one sentence out of a 300 word article which we fixed. There is nothing left to discuss, I’d rather other readers don’t attack each other about things we’ve written, we are glad to received constructive feedback on any minor errors that occur in articles or on any things that can be done better…. As far as your comments regarding us being a sub-standard website, well everyone is entitled to their own opinion and so I respect that despite the fact I don’t agree with you.

          • Arxon

            Sorry this came off saying your website is sub-standard. You guys are not. I was just trying to help make your website better is all.

        • VisualAudio

          At first I thought she just spilled coffee, but the matter of the attendants decision/training to put it on the tray, and the reclining changes everything and that’s exactly why the Airline is at fault. If you’re on a building site, and if youre on a crap ladder and it breaks it’s the companies fault for providing a shit ladder. The same concept is applied here.

          It wasn’t her fault at all. The reasoning is simple and why she definitely has a case. The seating and food/drinking facilities are dangerous and this has led to her getting burned. and scarred. The airline provide an eating and drinking tray, yet they do not meet the requirements in the facility in which they are created in. They’re dangerous.

          If you have something on a tray, and it gets reclined it should not fault in the manner it was designed in. If the airline new of these dangers that a reclining seat can cause spillages, then the attendant should have handed the cup directly to her (this is usual practice as the cup shouldn’t be too hot to handle.) The person reclining the chair is not at fault either. He/she has that facility provided to them too, at any time which is allowed and when it’s not they get you to sit up right (landing/taking off). He/she was in the right to recline their chair (whether they knew there was a beverage serving or not). The facilities are deemed to be safe so they have that entitlement.

          When cars or almost any item have a problem with them which is dangerous to the user the company has the right to get them off the road and fixed, or off the shelves. If you go to a supermarket, see plastic in your meal when you open the food after buying it, you have the right to go right back and get a refund, and at times the company will give you something in an apology. It’s completely the exact same here. If you provide the public with a facility, that facility has passed a health and safety standards requirement. But if you say its safe, and its not, expect to be in court when something like this does go wrong..

          • Chris Maddocks

            Agree with this, maybe the seats need redesigning with a cup holder in the armrest like in the cinema

          • Chris Arxon Dennison

            “When cars or almost any item have a problem with them which is dangerous to the user the company has the right to get them off the road and fixed, or off the shelves. If you go to a supermarket, see plastic in your meal when you open the food after buying it, you have the right to go right back and get a refund, and at times the company will give you something in an apology. It’s completely the exact same here. If you provide the public with a facility, that facility has passed a health and safety standards requirement. But if you say its safe, and its not, expect to be in court when something like this does go wrong..”

            Based on this the manufacturer of the plane is at fault not the air line.

          • VisualAudio

            It is a manufacturer problem, but the airline designate the seating and they own the plane outright. You can have the seats close or far away. So it’s their duty to maintain it and make sure it’s safe.

      • Guest

        Oh the irony of commenting on my disdain for stupidity while simultaneously misreading that part of the article.

    • VisualAudio

      She never reclined her own chair. Did you read either article? :/

      • Guest

        Yes I read the article and I know that I initially misread it. Of all things, the person in front who reclined the chair should be getting sued.

  • Wayne

    Bummer. It could’ve been worse though. Who has watched Aircrash Investigation on National Geographic Channel? Spilt coffee would’ve been the least of her problems.

  • d6bmg

    Well, that escalated quickly!