An electrician who sued Emirates after being hit in the head with a suitcase mid-flight will have to pay some of the airline’s legal bill, despite winning in court.
Stephen Bradshaw copped a child’s empty suitcase to the right side of his head when a fellow passenger opened an overhead compartment during a Dublin to Dubai flight in January 2019.
He said he experienced headaches and required oxygen during a connecting flight to Brisbane, and drove to Sydney to work on the WestConnex project before emailing Emirates about the incident three weeks later.
While the Federal Court found some of Mr Bradshaw’s evidence was embellished and he suffered no economic loss, it made an award of $5000 to compensate for pain and suffering in the days after the incident.
That figure was well short of the offer Emirates made in late January 2020 to settle the electrician’s claim.
“It constitute(d) an express offer to pay $15,000 plus costs,” Justice Angus Stewart said this week.
“It was not accepted by the applicant, and the applicant subsequently achieved a less favourable outcome.”
That led the court to order Mr Bradshaw to pay the airline’s legal costs on an indemnity basis from February 3, 2020.
That will include the cost of preparing and running a two-day hearing in 2021.
Emirates was ordered to pay Mr Bradshaw’s costs up until February 3.
Mr Bradshaw had made a wider claim for economic loss he said he suffered as a result of the suitcase hitting his head.
The suitcase was for a child and was empty, having carried the toys she had with her on the flight.
The child’s father testified he approached Mr Bradshaw immediately after the case fell and said “I am sorry, are you okay?”
Mr Bradshaw replied “I am fine, don’t worry”, the father said.
The applicant said he was affected by a severe headache on the next flight and missed a day of work.
But the judge said it wasn’t established whether the missed work day was due to the suitcase injury or the flu-like illness Mr Bradshaw was also suffering at the time.