A two-time Olympic wrestler spent much of his life working as a butcher. But when he retired from that job at age 72 he went to work for Spirit Airlines as a baggage handler.
After 16 years on the job, at age 88, his family says that he “lifted 500 pieces of luggage in one shift, triggering a hernia that would send him downhill.” His hernia surgey was “followed by a pneumonia, congestive heart failure, colitis, and ultimately, a heart attack” and they’re suing Spirit Airlines because of it.
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Nazem Amine, a Lebanese immigrant, died last month at age 90. His 53 year old wife says his death was caused by a work-related injury and is suing for $721,000 in medical bills (only half of which she’d get to keep if she won, the remainder going to reimburse Medicare).
The question of “whether the hernia caused Nazem Amine’s heart condition” is still pending before Michigan’s workers comp board.
Spirit Airlines has said that Amine’s medical bills relating to the hernia injury have been paid by the airliner’s workers’ compensation carrier. But it said the Michigan Workers Compensation Board hasn’t yet ruled on whether the heart problem will be covered by workers’ comp. And until it does, the airline argues, the lawsuit should be dropped.
The man who competed in 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Olympics, bringing home a Bronze from Rome, couldn’t stand retirement. He lived the way he wanted up until he was 88 years old.
It’s commendable, I think, that Spirit was willing to hire him in his 70s and continue employing him into his late 80s. If they’re held responsible for the health consequences of the job he wanted to do, that will make it harder for others as determined as Mr. Amine to get similar work in the future — and it’s hard to imagine that’s what he would have wanted.