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Could Court Ruling Lead to Banning of Hot Beverages on European Flights?

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Imagine taking a flight and not being able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea or even hot chocolate.

That could soon become a reality overseas after a recent court ruling by the European Union.

As Forbes writer James Asquith so astutely pointed out, the ruling by the EU Court of Justice that an airline is “liable for the harm caused by a spilled cup of hot coffee” has opened Pandora’s Box about whether carriers will continue to serve hot drinks and open themselves up to further litigation.

Asquith called the ruling on a case of a passenger on a budget Austrian carrier suffering a spilled beverage ‘vague and broad in nature.’

And precedent-setting.

If turbulence—a common occurrence on flights—causes a hot drink to spill, airlines might consider not taking the risk of serving such beverages at all if passengers now have the potential to sue for monetary damages.

The EU’s legal definition of an accident “covers all situations occurring on board an aircraft in which an object used when serving passengers has caused bodily injury to a passenger, without it being necessary to examine whether those situations stem from a hazard typically associated with aviation.”

The case smacks of the landmark 1992 decision in Albuquerque when 79-year-old Stella Liebeck bought a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru and spilled it on her lap. She sued McDonald’s and a jury awarded her nearly $3 million in punitive damages for the burns she suffered.

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Strange Odor at Oakland Airport Sends Travelers to the Hospital

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We have seen more issues with strange odors on airplanes in the last year or so than at any time, some so severe they required a diverted landing.

Now comes word that another incident has taken place, only this time it was actually inside the airport.

Four people were taken to local hospitals by the Oakland (Calif.) Fire Department on Tuesday after an unknown substance began giving off a strange odor at Oakland International Airport.

According to Fox News, the odor came from a small box at one of the ticketing counters that is used to discard items that cannot be brought on a plane via carry-on bag – water bottles, bottles of cologne or mouthwash larger than three ounces, etc.

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The airport played it safe and called the fire department, which sent a Hazmat crew according to the NBC TV affiliate in the Bay Area. There was no disruption to airport services, though four people were taken to the hospital to be checked out for precautionary reasons.

This is the latest in a series of numerous reports of odors emanating from a plane or airport just in the last year or so alone, much less beyond that time frame.

Some have been fumes that have forced flights to land.

Some have forced flights to divert to other airports.

Some have been so overwhelming that passengers and crew were hospitalized.

And some have even been visible – if you like your airplane cabin filling with an unknown fog.

The Oakland Fire Dept. is still investigating the cause of the odor.

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