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Olympic Airways v. Husain

540 U.S. 644 (2004)

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Olympic Airways v. Husain

United States Supreme Court

540 U.S. 644 (2004)

Facts

In 1997, Rubina Husain (plaintiff) and her husband, Abid Hanson, were on an Olympic Airways (defendant) flight from Athens to San Francisco. Husain and Hanson had booked flights on Olympic Airways, unaware that smoking was permitted on international flights. When Husain and Hanson first discovered smoking was permitted on the flight departing for their vacation, they requested that Hanson receive a seat away from the smoking section because he had severe asthma that was exacerbated by secondhand smoke. The request was granted, and Hanson experienced no issues on his departing flight. Hanson made the same request for his other planned flights throughout their travels. The requests were consistently granted. However, for the flight from Athens to San Francisco, his request was denied. Because Hanson was seated only three rows from the smoking section, Hanson again requested to be reseated and informed the flight attendant that he was allergic to smoke. The flight attendant denied his second request. About two hours into the flight, Hanson left his seat to get fresher air at the front of the plane. Hanson then gestured to Husain for assistance. Husain gave Hanson a shot of epinephrine. However, Hanson died from inhaling the smoke. Husain filed suit against Olympic Airways under Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention (convention), alleging Olympic Airways was liable for Hanson’s death. The district court found for Husain. The court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

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