Obese PAL flight steward grounded for good by SC

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 31 2008 04:57 PM | Updated as of Nov 01 2008 12:57 AM

MANILA - An obese flight steward for national flag carrier Philippine Airlines has been grounded for good by the Supreme Court after a 20-year legal battle, court records released Friday said.

In a 28-page ruling, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision by a lower court that found merit in the termination of Armanda Yrasuegi's contract.

The 217-pound Yrasuegi was dismissed by Philippine Airlines (PAL) after he failed to lose weight as specified under his contract in 1989.

Yrasuegi challenged the dismissal arguing that his weight had nothing to do with the airworthiness of PAL's airplanes in a legal battle that would stretch for 19 years.

He argued that his being fat was a "sickness and a physical abnormality" that was beyond his control.

But the Supreme Court noted that Yrasuegi repeatedly refused offers of medical assistance to lose weight and ignored weight checks.

It said Yrasuegi ignored suggestions to "trim down."

"Thus, his fluctuating weight indicates absence of willpower rather than an illness," the court said.

"Passenger safety goes to the core of the job of a cabin attendant. On board an aircraft, the body weight and size of a cabin attendant are important factors to consider in case of emergency.

"Aircraft have constricted cabin space, narrow aisles and exit doors," it stressed.

Yrasuegi's ideal weight should have been 166 pounds for his height of five feet, eight inches.