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UK highest court rejects DVT claim

Britain’s highest court has ruled against victims of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Victims have now lost the right to claim compensation from British Airlines and other airlines.

The House of Lords upheld earlier judgments on so-called economy class syndrome, saying events that caused DVT could not be classified as an accident under the 1929 Warsaw Convention governing air travel.

“It is an integral part of the test of what amounts to an accident that it must have a cause external to the passengers. In the case of DVT this factor is absent,” Lord Steyn told the court.

Lawyers for eight victims argued that airlines had failed to warn fliers that restricted flying conditions and prolonged time in the air could have caused DVT and associated blood clots resulting in death and injury.

Lawyers argued that this breach of duty constituted an accident and that the risk required a response from airlines in the same fashion as a hijack did.


British Airways, the only airline named in the appeal, welcomed the ruling, according to Reuters news agency.

The ruling upheld an earlier decision by the Appeals Court.

Airlines claim that the Warsaw Convention protects them from having to pay compensation to fliers for medical problems arising from the normal operation of an aircraft.

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot that develops when movement is restricted. It is more prominent in the legs, when people sit for long periods with little exercise. If clots reach the vital organs they can be fatal.