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Social Worker “Falsely Imprisoned” by American Airlines Over Child Kidnap Allegations

Social Worker “Falsely Imprisoned” by American Airlines Over Child Kidnap Allegations

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A social services worker is suing American Airlines over allegations that flight attendants falsely accused her of kidnapping a one-year-old child and then illegally detained her and the boy before an October 2019 flight from Dallas Fort Worth. In reality, Shannon Murphy was escorting the child cross-country for a court-ordered two-week visit with his father and even had a copy of the court order and ID ready to show anyone with concerns.

Murphy has accused American Airlines of civil rights violations, false imprisonment and negligence in the lawsuit filed on June 18 in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles – Central.

The child had been escorted and cared for by Murphy without incident from Riverside, California to Berryville in Arkansas but on the return trip, trouble allegedly erupted as they changed planes in Dallas Fort Worth. Another passenger is said to have claimed the boy was a missing child from New York City and that Murphy may have kidnapped him.

Murphy is a middle-aged African American woman, whereas the child in her custody was a ‘light-skinned’ caucasian with blonde hair. The missing child that the passenger was talking about was a much darker-skinned 5-year-old Hispanic boy with black hair.

But rather than trying to fact-check the allegations or corroborate what the other passenger was saying, Murphy alleges that she was threatened with physical force unless she immediately got off the plane. The child, despite being in her court-ordered care was also physically removed from her arms.

“Notwithstanding, the fact that had the flight attendants listened to Plaintiff (Murphy), checked her ID, the one year old Caucasian male dependent birth certificate, and Court Order she would not have had the child taken from her, or subjected to detention and separation from the child,” the lawsuit alleges.

The flight was held up for nearly an hour while the allegation was investigated and eventually dismissed. “Had American Airlines done this first prior to hauling Plaintiff, Ms Murphy off the plane and detaining her and the one-year-old Caucasian male dependent, Ms Murphy would not have suffered the mental, physical and psychological harm flight personnel inflicted upon her,” the case continues.

The lawsuit alleges that Murphy is now under the care of a psychologist because of what happened on that American Airlines flight.

“We are reviewing the lawsuit and the details of the flight,” a spokesperson for American Airlines has said of the court filing. “We take the safety and comfort of our customers very seriously and we’re committed to providing a positive experience for everyone who travels with us,” the statement continues.

Murphy has requested a jury trial and is asking for unspecified damages to cover medical expenses and costs arising from the incident, as well as punitive and exemplary damages.

In recent years, American Airlines has trumpeted its efforts to combat human trafficking and has trained over 60,000 staffers on warning signs and awareness training.