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Vic academics sue American Airlines

AAP logoAAP 1/09/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

A Victorian academic is suing American Airlines, claiming it failed to provide medical assistance after a turbulent flight shook him unconscious twice and left him suffering a severe brain injury.

Maxwell Winchester, a senior marketing lecturer for Victoria University, was returning from a work trip in Guadalajara, Mexico, on February 27 when his flight to Arizona in the US hit a thunderstorm.

Dr Winchester says the turbulence was "violent" and it caused him to lose consciousness twice and suffer an injury to his brain.

"The injury seems to be like shaken baby (syndrome) where I was basically shaken until I was unconscious," he told AAP.

According to a writ filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday Dr Winchester now also suffers from neck, head and back injuries, whiplash, concussion, severe headaches, post-concussive syndrome, tinnitus, vision problems and mental health issues.

Dr Winchester said after the flight, he told cabin crew he was not feeling well and at first declined medical help, but then he had trouble balancing as he left the aircraft.

He believes that's when staff should have insisted on getting paramedics.

"If football teams can get concussed players and order them off the field even though they keep wanting to play, then surely airlines can do it for their passengers," he said.

"You need to order them to take medical treatment, you don't just let them go."

Dr Winchester then took his connecting flight to Australia.

Medical experts have since told him he's lucky there was no turbulence on that flight, because he could have had a fatal brain haemorrhage.

The 44-year-old says the incident has not only impacted on him, but traumatised his wife and children.

He could not work, drive long distances or cycle for three months and can now only work part time.

His wife, academic Tiffany Winchester, is also suing claiming nervous shock and mental injuries, including insomnia, depression and panic attacks, over the injuries suffered by her husband.

The Winchesters' legal counsel, Shine Lawyers aviation expert Thomas Janson, told AAP repeated attempts to contact American Airlines and their insurance company led nowhere, prompting court action.

American Airlines has been contacted for comment.

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