Quinn v. Canadian Airlines International

In Carriage of Goods by Air on (Updated )

The 72 year old Plaintiff who suffered from advanced osteoporosis sued the Defendant airline. The Plaintiff was a passenger on the airlines charter flight from Toronto to St. Petersburg, Florida which encountered air turbulence. She alleged that, as a result of the turbulence, she suffered a compression fracture of three vertebrae. The Plaintiff contended that the turbulence was an accident under article 17 of the Warsaw Convention as modified by the Montreal Agreement of 1966 (which excludes the Article 20 due diligence defence of the Warsaw Convention) and that the Defendant was liable for her resulting injury. The airline contended that the Plaintiff injured herself after the flight and, alternatively, the event of air turbulence did not amount to an "accident" within the meaning of the convention.

The Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s case. The Court held that an airline is liable only if an unexpected or unusual event external to the passenger causes the passenger’s injury. The Court was satisfied one of the linked causes of the Plaintiff’s injury was the air turbulence but held that the turbulence encountered on the flight was not unusual or unexpected or of the level of severity to amount to an "accident" within the meaning of Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention.