June 1, 2007
Is The TB Traveler Liable To His Fellow Airline Passengers?
Stephen Bainbridge and Dan Solove both have posts pondering whether Andrew Speaker, the groom who traveled to Europe with a virulent form of tuberculosis, could be held liable for his transatlantic flights. (Stories on the TB Traveler abound: WSJ Law Blog, NY Times, and CNN are just a few.)
Both Bainbridge and Solove suggest a negligent transmission theory. (Bainbridge analogizes to negligent transmission of venereal diseases). In an AP News Story, Lawrence Gostin and Peter Jacobson suggest the same theory. But this raises an interesting question: Do we have a duty to our fellow passengers when we fly? If so, what is the scope of that duty? Could a passenger be liable for transmitting a cold?
Bainbridge and Solove also both mention the possible intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. Again, the same questions: how far could this theory go?
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