Fairfax Media

Australian brain surgeon sues Austrian Airlines after jamming pinky finger in table tray

A doctor is suing Austrian Airlines for causing “severe pain and injury”

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 2:17pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 2:18pm

By Patrick Hatch

 

An Australian brain surgeon whose pinky finger was jammed in a plane’s fold-out tray table is suing over his resulting physical and psychological injuries.

Dr David Walker says he was flying with Austrian Airlines from Brisbane to Manchester, England, via Bangkok and Vienna on July 5, 2016, when his finger was snared by a collapsing tray table.

In a statement of claim filed in the Queensland Federal Court, the Brisbane-based neurosurgeon says the cabin crew had folded out the horizontal table tray from his armrest before serving an in-flight meal during the Bangkok to Vienna leg of his trip.

But the cabin crew did not return to retract his table tray after the meal, which stopped Dr Walker from reclining his business class seat.

Dr Walker says he attempted to retract the armrest himself, at which point it “malfunctioned” and “snapped back suddenly without warning”.

“The fifth finger on the right hand of the Applicant became jammed in between two of the parts of the horizontal tray-table resulting in severe pain and injury,” the statement of claim says.

“The Applicant, with his son’s assistance, was able to pull the finger out of the jammed parts of the horizontal fold-out tray after several seconds.

“Due to the severe pain and realisation of the injury to the finger, the Applicant lost consciousness briefly.”

Dr Walker claims he suffered a fracture and “intra-articular extension” to the finger, as well as soft tissue injuries and trauma to the nail bed. The brain and spine surgery specialist says he has been left with a permanent disability and has suffered anxiety and depression.

The claim says Dr Walker has lost and will continue to lose income as a result of his physical and mental injuries, and that he will face future medical expenses.

Dr Walker has not submitted to the court how much he will seek in compensation. He is relying on the the Montreal Convention, an international treaty on compensation for airline passengers, and Australia’s Civil Aviation Carriers’ Liability Act.

Austrian Airlines did not respond to a request for comment. The airline’s Australian lawyers, HWL Ebsworth, declined to comment. Dr Walker and his lawyers were also contacted but declined to comment.

Australian brain surgeon sues Austrian Airlines after jamming pinky finger in table tray