Airlines Settle Suit in Death of 400-Pound Woman Denied a Seat

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The husband of an obese woman who died shortly after being denied a seat on a flight back to New York City from Hungary has settled his $6 million lawsuit with the airlines involved, court documents show.

Janos Soltesz first filed the wrongful death suit again Delta, KLM and Lufthansa airlines in November 2012 in Manhattan Federal Court. Vilma Soltesz — who weighed over 400 lbs. and had an amputated leg — had been kicked off a series of New York-bound flights in Budapest's Ferihegy International Airport between Oct. 15 and 22, 2012.

"Due to Vilma’s medical condition and weight, two seats were purchased for Vilma and one for Janos, for all of their flights," according to the original suit. And while the couple had no problems flying from New York to Hungary the month before, several problems — including broken seats and one impatient pilot — prevented the wheelchair-bound Vilma from getting home to the Bronx.

According to the suit, Vilma started feeling ill earlier in the month and had even sought treatment at Veszprem Hospital in Hungary. "She was released and told that she could fly home, but to see her own doctor immediately upon arrival in New York," according to the court documents.

But the stress of the flight maneuvers may have worsened her condition; Janos found Vilma dead in bed on Oct. 24. The original suit claimed that "despite the fact that defendants were previously advised of Vilma Soltesz’s medical condition and weight, that they accepted same and issued tickets to her, they willfully and intentionally refused to embark her and/or forcibly disembarked her from the aircrafts."

The suit was settled without fanfare, however, on August 27, according to court docs, and as first reported by the New York Daily News. Soltesz's lawyer and an attorney for the airlines refused to comment on the terms of the settlement.


— Hasani Gittens