Overweight, Unable To Get A Return Flight To The US, Dies, Airlines Settle Lawsuit
 
  
 
 
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Overweight, Unable To Get A Return Flight To The US, Dies, Airlines Settle Lawsuit
 
 

September 8, 2014 - A lawsuit filed against Delta, KLM and Lufthansa Airlines for allegedly barring a passenger from boarding a return flight back to the United Stated because of her weight, which may have resulted in her death has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Janos Soltesz, 57, of New York City, NY, had filed a $10 million lawsuit against the three carriers for negligence and non-performance of their contract (tickets) which Soltesz believed resulted in his wife's death.

Court documents state that back on July 17, 2012, Janos and Vilma Soltesz travel agent booked a roundtrip for them in economy class between JFK Airport, New York, and Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, Hungary, connecting Amsterdam.

Due to Vilma's medical condition and weight (407 LBS), two seats were purchased for Vilma and one for Janos, for all of their flights. They were to depart September 17, 2012, from JFK Airport and return on October 15, 2012, to JFK Airport. The flights were all KLM operated flights, but booked and purchased through Delta under a "codeshare" agreement.

At the time of the booking the travel agent advised Delta/KLM of Vilma's medical conditions, her weight, and her need for special assistance in boarding and disembarking.

On July 18, 2012, having full knowledge of Vilma's medical condition, weight, and special needs. Delta/KLM issued three roundtrip tickets to Vilma and Janos. Upon arrival at JFK Airport. on September 17, 2012, Janos and Vilma checked in for their flights at the Delta ticket counter.

 

At that time, Janos again advised the Delta ticket agent of Vilma's medical condition and weight, so that the necessary and proper accommodations could be made for Vilma's departure and return flight home. The Delta ticket agent advised Janos that the airline was aware of Vilma's medical and transportation needs. 

They were then issued Delta boarding passes for KLM flight KL642, from New York to Amsterdam, and KLM boarding passes for KLM flight 1975, Amsterdam to Budapest. Janos and Vilma departed from JFK International Airport on KLM's flight KL642 and arrived in Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Amsterdam on September 18, 2012, without incident. Janos and Vilma then took their connecting flight, KL1 975 to Budapest, again without incident.

 

 

Upon disembarking the flight at Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, a KLM representative asked Janos to meet with them in their "departure office." At said meeting, KLM employees asked Janos when he and Vilma would be returning to New York, so that they could be sure to have the proper equipment available and make the necessary accommodations for that date. Janos advised them that he and Vilma would be departing Budapest on October 15 2012, on flight KL1976. 

On October 2, 2012, Vilma began feeling ill and sought treatment at Veszprem Hospital in Hungary. She was released and told that she could fly home, but to see her own doctor immediately upon arrival in New York. Prior to returning to the United States Janos and Vilma spoke to Vilma's doctor in New York. He told her to come in to see him immediately upon returning to New York so that he could examine her and then either adjust her medication or prescribe new medication. 

On October 15, 2012, Janos and Vilma arrived at Budapest Ferihegy international Airport. They were scheduled to return home to New York that day, connecting through Amsterdam. Janos and Vilma checked in for their flights at the KLM ticket counter, Janos reminded the KLM ticket agent of Vilma's medical condition, her weight and her need for special assistance and accommodations. The KLM ticket agent told Janos that they were well aware of her needs Janos and Vilma were then issued KLM boarding passes for flight KL1976 from Budapest to Amsterdam, and flight KL643 from Amsterdam to New York. 

Once Janos and Vilma were onboard the aircraft, it was discovered that the backs of two seats in their row were broken. As such, Vilma was unable to maneuver from her wheelchair into her assigned seats. When informed of the problem, the KIM employees did not offer to change Vilma's seats, but rather, they went to speak to the captain of the flight. The captain came out of the cockpit and informed Janos and Vilma that they would have to disembark from the flight immediately. 

Upon disembarking from the flight, Janos and Vilma were told by KLM to wait at the airport terminal while they tried to make "other arrangements" for them. After waiting in the Budapest Ferihegy International Airport for over five hours, KL employees finally advised Janos and Vilma that they had made arrangements for them to take a Delta flight the following day from Vaclav Havel International Airport in Prague, Czechoslovakia, directly to JFK airport. 

At that time, the KLM employees assured Janos Vilma that Delta had been made aware of Vilma's medical condition and her weight, and there would be no further issues accommodating her for their return flight home. Janos and Vilma drove four and half hours through the night from Budapest, Hungary to Prague, Czechoslovakia. Upon arrival at Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague at approximately 5:00 a.m. the next day, Janos and Vilma checked in for their flight at the Delta ticket counter. 

Janos and Vilma confirmed with the Delta ticket agent that Delta was aware Vilma's medical condition and weight, and that the necessary accommodations had been made. They were then issued Delta boarding passes for flight DL211, which was scheduled to leave at 1:25 p.m. Upon boarding the aircraft, however, it became apparent that Delta did not have an adequate or proper wheelchair to transport Vilma to her seat. As such, Vilma and Janos were forced to disembark. 

Upon inquiry by Janos, the Delta flight coordinator told Janos and Vilma that Delta "did not have access to a skylift" to get Vilma onto the aircraft from the rear, and that there was nothing more Delta could do for them. Delta made no further travel arrangements for Janos and Vilma and so they drove back to their vacation home in Veszprem, Hungary. 

Upon returning to their vacation home in Veszprem, Hungary, Janos and Vilma contacted their travel agent in New York and advised her of what had occurred. The travel agent subsequently made reservations for Janos and Vilma to return to New York on October 22, 2012, on Lufthansa flight LH1335 from Budapest to Frankfurt, Germany, and then connecting on Lufthansa flight LH404, to New York. 

At the time of booking the flights, the travel agent notified Lufthansa of Vilma's medical condition and weight, so that the necessary and proper accommodations could be made for her departure on October 22, 2012. Tickets for three economy seats were then issued by Lufthansa to Janos and Vilma. 

On October 22, 2012, Janos and Vilma arrived at Budapest Ferihegy international Airport and proceeded to the Lufthansa ticket counter to check in for their flights. At that time, Janos and Vilma confirmed with the Lufthansa ticket agent that the airline was aware of Vilma's medical condition and weight, and that the proper arrangements had been made to get her safely onboard the aircraft. Janos and Vilma were then issued Lufthansa boarding passes for all legs of their journey. 

Several Lufthansa medics and local EMS/Firefighters helped to get Vilma onto the aircraft and into the row of her assigned seats. However, with the boarding of Vilma onto flight LHI 335 almost complete, the captain came out of the cockpit and told Janos and Vilma that they would have to disembark immediately. He stated that "other passengers need to catch a connecting flight and cannot be delayed further." The disembarking of Vilma from the aircraft took approximately 25-30 minutes. 

With nowhere else to turn, Janos and Vilma drove back to their vacation home Veszprem, Hungary. Vilma was extremely exhausted and feeling ill during the trip home. She told Janos that she just needed to sleep. Upon arriving at their vacation home in Veszprem, Hungary, Vilma went right to bed and Janos contacted their travel agent in New York once again to tell her what had transpired. The travel agent assured Janos that she would somehow find a way for them to get home to New York soon. On October 24, 2012, Janos found Vilma dead in her bed.

 
 
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