Contaminated air: Is the ‘but for’ test saving air carriers?

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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." 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)185-202
Number of pages17
JournalAir and Space Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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