Judge rules easyJet to blame for Edinburgh passenger suffering two smashed legs at Hamburg Airport

Budget airline easyJet should pay compensation to a disabled father-of-three who broke both legs after falling out of a wheelchair at a German airport, a judge has ruled.

By Stephen Wilkie and James Mulholland
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 2:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2022, 2:39 pm

Lord Uist said easyJet should pay damages to paraplegic Colin Mather, 56, over injuries he sustained after travelling from Scotland to Hamburg Airport in May 2017.

The Court of Session heard that building services industry consultant Mr Mather was helped from the aircraft by “assistance personnel” from DRK, the German Red Cross’s Mediservice based at the airport.

He was pushed approximately 10 to 20 metres away from the plane up the ramp of an airbridge towards the terminal.

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easyJet will have to pay damages after Edinburgh passenger Colin Mather suffered two broken legs

Mr Mather,, from Edinburgh, said he was being pushed “quite briskly” when he was suddenly thrown from the chair and onto a marble floor.

He sustained compound fractures of both legs below the knees, having previously been left paralysed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident in 2009.

In a written judgement issued by Lord Uist, the judge stated that the wheelchair stopped “very abruptly”.

Lord Uist also wrote that Mr Mather led an “active life”, and worked as a project manager before becoming a self employed consultant.

Described in court papers as a “regular air traveller” Mr Mather booked himself onto an easyJet flight from Edinburgh Airport on May 15 2017.

His own wheelchair was in the hold of the aircraft and he was helped into another wheelchair shortly after arrival in Hamburg and was being conveyed to the terminal when the accident occurred.

Mr Mather instructed lawyers to go to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to sue easyJet for compensation.

However, lawyers for the company maintained the accident was not due to its “fault or negligence” but by the actions of the DRK representative.

EasyJet also claimed there was no direct contractual connection between easyJet and DRK and that any liability in the case should be limited.

However,Lord Uist concluded that legal tests showed that easyJet’s liability was unlimited.

The judge ruled that legal tests showed that easyJet were contractually obliged to help Mr Mather leave the plane and that the airline hadn’t showed they hadn’t acted negligently.

He added: “I have concluded that DRK must be regarded as the agent of easyJet.

“It matters not that there was no direct contractual connection between easyJet and DRK or that DRK was the independent contractor to Hamburg Airport.

What matters is that the services provided to easyJet were in furtherance of the contract of carriage by assisting Mr Mather to disembark the flight.

“They were also, in terms of the earlier test, services which easyJet would themselves have been required by law to provide had DRK not provided them as they were part of the process of disembarkation.

“It follows that easyJet is liable for unlimited damages as it has not proved that the injury to Mr Mather was not due to its own negligence or other wrongful act or omission or that of its servants or agents.

“I shall find and declare that easyJet is liable to make reparation to Mr Mather for the loss, injury and damage sustained by him in the accident at Hamburg Airport on15 May 2017 without limit of liability.”

Lord Uist continued the case to determine the damages due to Mr Mather.