You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Businessman 'sat next to 22st man' on BA flight loses £10,000 damages bid

Wales Online logo Wales Online 29/11/2018 Wales News Service
a man wearing a suit and tie standing in a parking lot: Stephen Prosser outside court © Wales News Service Stephen Prosser outside court

A businessman who sued British Airways for £10,000 after claiming he had been injured by being seated next to a “22st” passenger on a long-haul flight has lost his battle for compensation.

Self-employed civil engineer Stephen Prosser told a court he was left with back injuries and “continual spasms” after being seated next to the man, whom he likened to rugby legend Jonah Lomu .

Mr Prosser, 51, tried to claim damages from the airline after saying he was forced to sit in an “unnatural pose” during the 12-hour trip between Bangkok and London.

But a county court judge ruled Mr Prosser had presented an “exaggerated picture” after deciding the airline giant was not at fault for his alleged injuries.

Earlier this month Mr Prosser told Pontypridd County Court how he was “pinned against the side of the cabin” during the journey in January 2016.

The father-of-two said minutes before the door was closed on his flight “an extremely large gentleman came up the aisle and physically wedged himself into the seat next to me”.

He said: “In my opinion he was obese and I was immediately aware there was going to be a problem for me.

“I could feel the weight of his pure bulk putting lateral pressure on my upper body.

“This forced me to sit in a position of unnatural posture.”

a man holding a ball: The businessman compared the passenger to rugby legend Jonah Lomu © Credits: Getty Images The businessman compared the passenger to rugby legend Jonah Lomu

Mr Prosser – who is 5ft 3ins tall and weighs 9st 12lb – wrote BA a letter of complaint about his flight.

Mr Prosser, from Tonypandy, said he survived the rest of the flight on substantial pain killers and claimed the pain stopped him from working his normal hours.

He claimed damages for loss of earnings as a self-employed civil engineer and also for his injuries.

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

But district judge Andrew Barcello dismissed his claims, saying there appeared to be no “physical encroachment” from the passenger.

Giving his ruling, he said: “‘Having heard his evidence I have formed the impression that Mr Prosser had expectations of his flight experience that were unrealistic, given the class of cabin that he chose.

“In stark contrast to the passenger in 37J, who on all accounts was very tall and was large in stature, Mr Prosser himself is of a slight build and more than a foot shorter in height.

“There was a significant disparity in their sizes and it is possible that Mr Prosser felt that he was towered over and may well have been of the impression that his space was being encroached upon.

“However, in my judgment, it was not. I have formed the conclusion that the likelihood is that Mr Prosser simply did not wish to come into bodily contact with his neighbouring passenger, a risk that was heightened owing to his neighbour being of a large stature.

“It may be that this caused him to sit in an awkward manner, however his sitting position was not forced upon him by there being any physical encroachment upon his seating area.

“Alternatively, there is a very real prospect that the injury was simply caused by Mr Prosser’s apparent reluctance to mobilise whilst upon the flight.

“He is a man with a pre-existing back injury. One that could have been exacerbated by sitting in a normal position for long periods of time.”

The judge added: “In my view, his statements were intended to increase the size of the claimed encroachment and to create an exaggerated picture, rather than a genuine account.”

Speaking after the judgement a British Airways spokesman said: “We are pleased that the court agreed that Mr Prosser had room to fly comfortably.

“Our cabin crew will always do their best to make sure all our customers have a smooth journey, and in this case provided extra pillows and blankets to help Mr Prosser sleep.”

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Wales Online

Wales Online
Wales Online
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon