Cases concerning victims of presumed air cabin contamination are receiving ever more media attention. Meanwhile, experts are still trying to demonstrate that the so called ‘fume events’ might have consequences on human health. A recent study published in 2017 demonstrates a ‘clear cause and effect relationship has been identified linking the symptoms, diagnoses and findings to the occupational environment.’ (Susan Michaelis et al., Aerotoxic Syndrome: A New Occupational Disease?, 3 Pub.c Health Panorama 198 (2017)) If other studies corroborate such findings, then carriers might face large amounts of litigation from former crew members who are suffering from chronic illnesses.
Although the problem has been known for over a decade, only a few cases have been successful, mainly because the victims used specific health-related legislation rather than general tort law. Basing itself predominantly on the Richard Westgate case, this article concludes that the famous English ‘but for’ test is preventing claimants from demonstrating any causal link between their illnesses and the fume events.Air and Space Law