Sue my foot?
Suppose X wrongly (intentionally or negligently) pushes me. In consequence, I land upon you. My fall seriously injures your right foot. 

In the circumstances, you should be entitled to sue X. It is his conduct which led to the chain reaction resulting in your foot injury.  It is as if X had swung a rod or something heavy to land on your feet and thereby injure it.

Now, let’s change the facts a bit. 

Suppose X is an Air Asia aeroplane flying to Melbourne. It flew into an air turbulence zone, a common but unavoidable occurrence in flight routes from Southeast Asia to Melbourne.  

Air turbulence caused the plane to become temporarily unstable for a few seconds. It in turn caused an air hostess to lose her balance. That unbalanced hostess consequently fell on a passenger nearby. The impact of her fall caused the passenger’s foot to fracture seriously. 

That passenger was Erin Crocker, 36. She was returning from a family holiday in Thailand.  

Questions & Comment

  • Is Erin entitled to sue Air Asia for compensation? Maybe Air Asia should have offered her some 'ex gratia' payment as a good public relations exercise. But that's a different thing from her being entitled to sue Air Asia.

  • Can you see the difference between X and the AirAsia plane? It's all about causation, something which is common sense to many. It nevertheless eludes the minds of those who are highly imaginative and who too readily want to jump to conclusions.

  • It would appear Erin had been just the unfortunate victim of an accident.  There’s apparently  no negligence or intentional conduct that led to her injury.  As such, unless it can be shown that the pilot had deliberately flown into that turbulent zone or had been negligent in flying into that air turbulence, she might have a better chance suing god or whichever ghost or spirit that caused the air turbulence. In that event, compensation may have to be collected in "heaven" as few good things fall from the sky. In other words, it would be better for her to try suing her own foot for being there at a spot where someone's fall could do so much damage to it.

  • However, the fact that her lawyers actually launched the action may tell us they see something I have not. It may be they are baiting for an offer of a settlement, something which an airline may want to make instead of being dragged through the court system which can be a costly nuisance. Whatever it is, we must be careful not to assume or dismiss things things we don't know and which may exist. In this situation, some additional factor (unknown to me and the media)  may make a critical difference.  We should thus be less categorical about dismissing this legal action as an attempt to milk Air Asia. Having said all that, I would not bet on her being able to succeed, in which event she might want to ask her lawyer to justify that decision to sue.

Gim Teh

Yahoo7 News
January 17, 2015, 9:15 am
Melbourne mum sues AirAsia after hostess fell on her

A Melbourne mother is suing beleaguered airline AirAsia after an air hostess fell on top of her, injuring her foot, during bad turbulence.
Erin Crocker, 36, was returning from a family holiday in Thailand when the plane hit severe turbulence and she was thrown to the floor, NewsCorp reports.  A flight attendant then toppled over and landed on her right foot, causing injuries that required major surgery.
Ms Crocker suffered multiple joint fractures, a ligament tear and a deep vein thrombosis, and was forced to take time off work
She is now seeking damages and has reportedly rejected a settlement offer