American Airlines' Attorneys Claim 9-Year-Old Victim Should Have Noticed Hidden Camera

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 22, 2024 23:00 PMNews
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A large American Airlines passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky
A large American Airlines passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky. Source: unsplash

Attorneys representing American Airlines and its former flight attendant, Estes Carter Thompson III, have sparked outrage by claiming that a nine-year-old girl should have noticed a hidden camera in the aircraft lavatory. The airline has since distanced itself from this assertion.

Lawyers Suggest Victim is Responsible

The family of a nine-year-old girl from Texas is suing American Airlines after discovering she was filmed in the lavatory by Thompson III. The airline's attorneys suggested the girl "knew or should have known" there was a camera. A court filing stated:

"Any injuries or illnesses alleged to have been sustained by Plaintiff, Mary Doe, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s own fault and negligence, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s use of the compromised lavatory, which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device."

This incident occurred on January 26, 2023, and the family learned of the recordings almost a year later. Thompson III reportedly used the pretext of "cleaning up a mess" to install his phone in the lavatory, targeting several minor female passengers before being caught.

Paul Llewellyn, the family's lawyer, criticized the defense strategy, saying:

"To blame a 9-year-old for being filmed while using the airplane bathroom is both shocking and outrageous. In my opinion, this is a depraved legal strategy that sinks to a new low. American Airlines should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves."

American Airlines Responds

American Airlines has distanced itself from its attorneys' claim, stating it does "not believe this child is at fault" and has asked for the claim to be amended. The airline emphasized that its attorneys were retained through its insurance company and the imputation of blame to the victim was "not representative" of the airline.

In a statement to Simple Flying, American Airlines said:

"Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing. The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning. We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously. Our core mission is to care for people — and the foundation of that is the safety and security of our customers and team."

Flight Attendant Had Been Flagged Before

The lawsuit against American Airlines contends that the airline and other flight attendants should have been aware of Thompson III's potential danger. The suit claims fellow flight attendants should have noticed his suspicious behavior, such as cutting up red catering tape, entering the lavatory, loitering outside, and then re-entering immediately.

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that several American Airlines employees had previously complained about Thompson III's inappropriate sexual conduct. It also mentions that he had been stopped by US Customs and Border Protection for possessing inappropriate material prior to the incident.

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