His illness? Sudden and mysterious bleeding in the area
between his legs.
The curious incident occurred February 15, 2008 during a flight from
Montreal to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Marcel Cote was comfortably seated in
business class an hour after takeoff when, for some unknown reason, he felt
enough discomfort to make an emergency visit to the washroom, where he
discovered spots of blood on his body.
In a panic, Cote asked for the help of a flight attendant, who quickly came
to his side. When the passenger noticed that the agent was female, he asked
to be assisted by a male attendant because the bleeding seemed to be coming
from his genital area.
When the male attendant came to him, Cote then asked to be closely examined
so that the exact nature of the problem can be determined. The employee
declined, giving him absorbent paper instead.
Indignant and distressed, Cote quickly expressed his wish to see a doctor.
Before supplying him with sanitary towels, the members of the flight crew
told him they would contact a physician if the illness was grave enough. On
arriving in Puerto Vallarta three hours later, Mr. Cote met with a travel
agent he knew and she took him to the hospital in a taxi. He was examined by
a doctor who determined Cote had a ruptured vein near his scrotum. Three
stitches were needed to close the wound.
What started off as a dream trip to a Southern paradise with his wife, in
the end turned into a nightmare Cote said, claiming the incident ruined his
vacation and has made him anxious about flying.
Cote sued Air Transat and the employees on the flight that day, accusing
them of failing to provide appropriate medical assistance, seeking damages
of $8,000 for the anguish he suffered as a result of their neglect.
But judge Michele Pauze rejected Cote's case.
In her decision, she said she agreed with arguments offered by Air Transat
representative Chantal Chlala, who explained to the court that flight
attendants do not have the right to examine passengers, and even less to
make a diagnosis.
"It was not incumbent upon a flight attendant to conduct the medical
examination of a passenger, a measure reserved for the medical profession,"
wrote judge Pauz?.
Although she conceded that Cote could very well have experienced troubling
moments in the episode, the judge maintained that "nothing in the facts (put
before us) proves that that the situation was dangerous or worrisome to the
point of requiring the immediate attention of a doctor."
Not only did Pauze rule against Cote, she also ordered him to pay for the
court costs incurred by Air Transat, amounting to $189.