Airlines Sued After Woman — Too Overweight to Fly Home — Died
Janos Soltesz has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Lufthansa, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Delta Air Lines seeking $5.7 million in damages, claiming that the airlines refused to allow his wife to fly home to New York from Hungary.
The attorney of the couple claims that the airlines violated laws protecting the disabled, contributing to the cause of the death of Vilma, who is the wife of Janos.
Vilma Soltesz — who was 56 years old, weighed 425 pounds, had only one leg and used a wheelchair — died this past October from kidney failure after allegedly being denied boarding an aircraft at the airports in Budapest, Prague and Frankfurt while attempting to return to her home in New York, according to her husband Janos.
Vilma apparently gained weight while at the couple’s vacation home in the Hungary countryside due to a combination of kidney disease and diabetes, causing her to retain a significant amount of water over the course of a month — which supposedly explains why the couple was able to fly as passengers to Hungary but not be able to return to New York.
Although the couple purchased two seats for her for the flight home, she was reportedly informed by a representative of KLM that a seat belt extender was not available for her. However, a spokeswoman for KLM claimed that she was unable to even board the aircraft despite all possible efforts, rendering a seat belt extender useless.
The couple refused to have Vilma treated in their native Hungary because they did not trust the medical personnel there. Her extensive medical history was better known to the medical professionals in New York to whom she was a patient. They drove as far as Prague and Frankfurt to attempt to board aircraft for flights to New York, but with no success.
I wonder how Vilma was able to fit in a vehicle and be transported for hours on the highways of Europe to the airports where she supposedly could not board. I also wonder why they did not seek medical attention in other European countries if they did not trust the Hungarian medical community. I may be American, but surely there are some good hospitals in Europe — no?
FlyerTalk members discussed and debated whether the airlines did everything they could to accommodate the couple, or if the airlines discriminated against Vilma due to her excessive weight. Many FlyerTalk members believe that Janos does not have a case.
While Janos seeks answers pertaining to this case, questions — listed in no particular order — included:
- Did Vilma exceed the seat loading weight limits of each of the aircraft she attempted to board?
- Should the couple have sought medical attention in Hungary — or at any of the other locations to which they drove in Europe — to have exercised every effort possible to prevent the death of Vilma?
- Was a conscious decision made by them to not seek medical attention in Europe, only to shift the blame to the airlines involved — or are the airlines culpable in at least partially contributing to the death of Vilma?
- Were there other options of which they could have taken advantage to prevent the tragic outcome of her death, such as taken a cruise ship or private airplane to the United States?
- Did they have travel insurance of any kind?
- Had Vilma successfully boarded the aircraft, would she have possibly been an impediment hindering an unlikely event such as an emergency evacuation?
Is there more to this story about which we do not yet know?
What do you think? Should Janos Soltesz be awarded the $5.7 million in damages, or does he not have a case? Judge for yourself by watching the video below: