How hot is too hot? Airlines now liable for hot coffee burns

BRUSSELS — Remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer sues a coffee company for selling him coffee that was too hot? The real world has finally caught on to Kramer’s crazy antics with news that passengers can now sue airlines for burns caused by steaming cups of joe.

The European Union’s highest court made the ruling last month, stating that an airline can be held liable if a passenger is burned by hot coffee, even if turbulence or other flight-related factors didn’t cause the spill.

According to the European Court of Justice, such injuries don’t have to be linked to issues typically associated with air travel to provide grounds for a passenger to seek damages.

The advisory ruling came in an Austrian case seeking financial compensation for a girl who had her father’s coffee spilled on her during a flight.

The insolvent Austrian airline Niki claimed that such mishaps needed to be linked to the flying of a plane for airlines to be held responsible.

But the EU court said in a statement that “it is not necessary for that accident to relate to a hazard typically associated with flight.”

The outcome of the girl’s claim will be decided by an Austrian court.

And somewhere out there in TV Land, Kramer is doing a victory dance.


With file from The Associated Press