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Published on May 22, 2024
AA’s Legal Blunder: Blames 9-Year-Old for Lavatory Spying, Sparks OutrageSource: Grant Wickes from Plano, TX (Dallas), USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

An unsettling twist unfolded in the lawsuit against American Airlines when attorneys representing the airline initially placed blame on a 9-year-old girl who was recorded by a flight attendant's hidden phone in an airplane lavatory. According to KXAN, an 'error' was made in a legal filing that suggested the girl was at fault for the privacy breach due to her negligence and for using a bathroom "which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device."

In response to public backlash, American Airlines quickly retracted the defense. "The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning," an airline spokesperson said. The company emphasized that the child was not to blame and stated that they were treating the incident involving the former employee with the utmost severity. In an incident that came to light last September, 36-year-old flight attendant Estes Thompson III was accused of directing a 14-year-old to use a particular bathroom on a flight where he had positioned his phone to record her.

The case has garnered widespread attention, with the mother of the 9-year-old expressing her shock and anger to NBC10 Boston over the insinuation that her daughter could be responsible. "Instead of taking responsibility for this awful event, American Airlines is actually blaming our daughter for being filmed. How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion? It both shocks and angers us. American Airlines has no shame," she stated.

Legal responsibility remains a central issue as the family's civil lawsuit progresses. Thompson, meanwhile, has pled not guilty to charges in a Boston federal court. The former flight attendant faces accusations of recording not only the 9-year-old but also four other underage passengers. American Airlines has emphasized its mission of customer care, basing it on the "safety and security of our customers and team," KXAN reported. The airline's statement asserts a commitment to amend the controversial legal defense and hold their former team member accountable for the alleged misconduct.