EasyJet told to pay compensation to man who broke both legs at airport

Colin Mather fell out of a wheelchair at Hamburg airport and 'landed on his legs', sustaining compound fractures.

EasyJet ordered to pay disabled man who broke both legs falling out wheelchair damages iStock
Compensation: Judge orders easyJet to pay damages to disabled man who broke legs at airport.

A judge has ordered that EasyJet should pay compensation to a disabled man who broke both legs after falling out of a wheelchair at a German airport. 

Lord Uist concluded that the airline 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 how after the flight landed, Mr Mather was helped from the aircraft by “assistance personnel” from DRK, the German Red Cross’s Mediservice based at the airport.

The court heard how Mr Mather was pushed approximately ten to 20 metres away from the plane by a DRK representative up the ramp of an airbridge towards the terminal.

But Mr Mather, who works as a self-employed consultant, thought he was being pushed “quite briskly”. 

In a written judgement issued by Lord Uist, the judge writes of how the wheelchair stopped “very abruptly”.  

Lord Uist also wrote that Mr Mather then “landed on his legs” and sustained “compound fractures” to both legs below his knees. 

The judgement also tells of how Mr Mather became a paraplegic after suffering injuries in an accident in 2009.

However, Mr Mather continued to live an “active life”, working as a project manager before becoming a self employed consultant.

By 2017, the judgement tells of how Mr Mather was a “regular air traveller” and he booked himself onto an EasyJet flight from Edinburgh Airport on May 15, 2017. 

His own wheelchair was in the hold of the aircraft and was helped into another wheelchair shortly after arrival. 

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

However, lawyers for the company told the court that the accident was caused not by its own “fault or negligence” but by the actions of the DRK representative. 

The lawyers for the airline also claimed there was no direct contractual connection between EasyJet and DRK. EasyJet’s lawyers claimed this meant that its own liability in the case should be limited.

However, in his opinion, which was issued on Wednesday, Lord Uist concluded that legal tests showed that EasyJet’s liability was unlimited. 

Lord Uist concluded that legal tests showed that easyJet were contractually obliged to help Mr Mather leave the plane and that the airline hadn’t shown 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 on May 15, 2017 without limit of liability.”

Lord Uist continued the case for proceedings on quantum – the sum that should be given to Mr Mather.