American Airlines claimed a child was at fault for being secretly recorded in a plane restroom. It’s now changing its legal response

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An American Airlines plane is preparing to land in May 2023.


After American Airlines, in a legal response, accused a 9-year-old girl of using an airplane lavatory in which a recording device was allegedly placed by a former employee, the airline now says it requested his law firm to change his answer.

The company was responding to a civil lawsuit filed against American Airlines, claiming that the girl, listed as Mary Doe, was “secretly filmed while using the aircraft bathroom” during an airline flight. American Airlines in January 2023.

A former American Airlines flight attendant, Estes Carter Thompson, 37, who federal investigators say secretly recorded several minors as they used the restrooms on different American Airlines flights last year, is also named in the Texas lawsuit. The former employee faces federal charges of child sexual exploitation.

The incident involving the 9-year-old occurred during a flight from Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles, California, the lawsuit states.

American Airlines initially argued that the girl was at fault and negligent because she was using a restroom “that she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device.”

In response to CNN’s request for comment on Monday’s filing, American Airlines said the filing was made in error by an outside attorney hired by the airline’s insurance company.

“The included defense is not representative of our airline, and we ordered it to be changed this morning,” American Airlines said in a statement Wednesday. “We do not believe this child is at fault and we take allegations involving a former team member very seriously.”

Attorney Paul Llewellyn, who represents the girl and her family, said he believes the change in leadership at American Airlines is a response to public backlash.

“To claim they filed the ‘wrong’ answer is simply not credible, but the bell cannot be rung (sic),” Llewellyn told CNN in a statement Wednesday. “They should never have taken such an outrageous position in the first place. »

Llewellyn called American Airlines’ legal strategy “depraved” and “shocking.”

“Instead of taking responsibility for this horrible event, American Airlines is blaming our daughter for being filmed,” the child’s mother said in a statement. “How could they, in good conscience, make such a suggestion?

Last month, Thompson was indicted in Massachusetts on federal charges, including sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography, in connection with an incident involving a 14-year-old on an American Airlines flight in destination Boston, according to the criminal complaint.

In investigating the incident, federal prosecutors in Massachusetts said they discovered additional videos on Thompson’s iCloud account showing four additional minors — including a 9-year-old child — using the restroom on American Airlines flights between January and August 2023, according to the Ministry of Education. Justice.

The parents of the 14-year-old girl, known as Jane Doe, also filed a lawsuit against American Airlines in North Carolina after she was filmed using the plane’s bathroom during ‘a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina.

“American Airlines’ conduct immediately following the incident, including failing to immediately confiscate the flight attendant’s phone and failing to immediately notify the pilots, allowed the flight attendant to destroy evidence and exacerbated the harm suffered by Plaintiff,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Jane Doe suffered significant emotional distress and damages due to the airlines’ behavior and is now seeking relief.

CNN has reached out to Jane Doe’s attorneys for comment.

Thompson was arraigned Monday and is scheduled to reappear in court July 1 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe. Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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