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Delta Air Named in Gross Negligence Lawsuit After Disabled Child Was Sexually Assaulted On Red Eye Flight to Orlando

Delta Air Named in Gross Negligence Lawsuit After Disabled Child Was Sexually Assaulted On Red Eye Flight to Orlando

a plane taking off from a runway

The parents of a disabled teenage girl are suing Delta Air Lines for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress after their daughter was repeatedly sexually assaulted during a four-hour red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Orlando in June 2022.

The perpetrator of the sexual assault, Brian Patrick Durning, was convicted of a sexual assault felony last year, but the victim’s family has now filed a civil lawsuit against Delta Air Lines for what they claim is its culpability for what occurred during what was meant to have been a joyful flight to visit family in Florida.

Since the assault, the victim’s life, identified only as ZB in recently filed court papers, as well as the lives of the rest of her family, have been turned upside down. The young victim now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and panic attacks, as well as frequent nausea and a fear of flying.

ZB has also started to self-harm, cutting her body and refusing to hug family members because of the trauma that occurred during Flight 2954.

The family were flying to Orlando to spend time with grandparents, an extra special visit after putting off what was normally an annual tradition for two years because of the pandemic.

But rather than being allowed to sit together, Delta separated the family, with mother and son sitting together and the 13-year-old victim forced to sit two rows back in a middle seat.

To one side of ZB was Durning, who already “reeked of alcohol” when he boarded the plane in Los Angeles. Despite his intoxicated state, the lawsuit alleges that flight attendants “repeatedly” served him alcohol during the initial hours of the flight.

When the lights in the cabin were dimmed, Durning allegedly began his horrific sexual assault on the victim, repeatedly groping her breasts, prying apart her legs and touching her genitals through her clothing, and threatening to take her to Texas, all while rubbing his own genitals.

The victim suffers from selective mutism and was unable to cry out for help throughout the prolonged assault. It wasn’t until the woman sitting on the other side of the victim woke up and saw Durning move his hand from the victim’s thigh that anyone realized what was happening.

Flight attendants moved Durning to a new seat, but the lawsuit alleges that Delta’s “inadequate response” to the allegation only “emboldened” him.

Durning was moved just two rows in front of the victim and on the opposite side of the aisle, allowing him to repeatedly turn back and “leer” at the victim. He also roamed about the cabin, grabbing his genitals over his clothes and shaking them at the victim as he walked past.

He also allegedly assaulted another passenger, but despite being made aware of these allegations, the family questioned why flight attendants didn’t take any further action, such as using onboard handcuffs to restrain Durning for the rest of the flight.

The family also question why the Captain didn’t divert the flight to the nearest airport so that Durning could be arrested.

Upon arrival in Orlando, Durning wasn’t even escorted from the plane by law enforcement, and he was instead allowed to continue harassing the victim and her family as he collected his hand luggage and slowly walked off the plane.

The lawsuit alleges that Delta’s “outrageous” acts and omissions caused severe emotional distress for the victim. These include allowing Durning to board the plane drunk, continuing to serve him alcohol, failing to restrain Durning and failing to call law enforcement to meet the plane on arrival in Orlando.

The case is currently pending in a Los Angeles district court and has been filed under case number: 2:24-cv-02178

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