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Woman Sues American Airlines After Seatmate Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Her While Off-Duty Flight Attendant Looked On

Woman Sues American Airlines After Seatmate Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Her While Off-Duty Flight Attendant Looked On

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A frequent American Airlines flyer is suing the Fort Worth-based carrier for negligence after her seatmate is alleged to have ‘aggressively’ sexually assaulted her while she was in a sleeping tablet-induced slumber as an off-duty flight attendant who was sitting nearby looked on.

Tiffany Morgan is an attorney for a boutique entertainment law firm based in New York City, and before the assault, she frequently traveled with American Airlines for work and pleasure. But now, she says she has been ‘robbed’ of the ability to travel independently and is terrified of experiencing a similar assault in the future.

As an already nervous flyer, Morgan says she took two Benadryl before boarding American Airlines flight AA1623 last August to help her relax and sleep during the two-hour flight from Florida to Pennslyvania.

She was sat in a window seat, and while the middle seat remained open for the duration of the flight, towards the end of the boarding process, a large male passenger carrying a cane was helped by flight attendants into the aisle seat.

Tiffany says she drifted off to sleep during the beverage service shortly after takeoff and was pretty much unconscious for most of the flight. With just 30 to 40 minutes left of the flight, however, she was awoken by one of the flight attendants tapping her on the shoulder from the row behind.

The flight attendant urged Tiffany to go to the galley at the back of the plane. As a nervous flyer, Tiffany says he felt ‘terrified and exceptionally nervous’, but she got up from her seat and squeezed past her ‘visibly intoxicated’ seatmate, noticing several empty miniature bottles of vodka on the middle seat between them.

A group of flight attendants was waiting for Tiffany in the rear galley, and they asked her if she knew her seatmate. When she told them she had never met the man before, the flight attendants ‘appeared greatly distressed’.

The flight attendants told Tiffany that her seatmate had been ‘aggressively touching her chest’, but they hadn’t done anything because ‘they didn’t know what to do’.

The off-duty flight attendant who witnessed the assault told Tiffany that the man first waved his hands in front of their face to make sure she was sleeping before ‘blatantly groping, rubbing, and fondling’ her breasts.

This off-duty crew member wasn’t sure whether Tiffany was traveling with the suspect, so brought the matter to the attention of the working flight attendants. The news was apparently so shocking to the working flight attendants that they looked visibly distressed and one even allegedly admitted to overserving the suspect.

At this point, the flight attendants found a new seat for Tiffany and arranged for the police to meet the aircraft on arrival. The police, however, told Tiffany that they had no jurisdiction over inflight incidents and that the matter would have to be dealt with by the FBI.

Unfortunately, there was a delay in the FBI arriving at the gate because it was the weekend, so the suspect wasn’t arrested, and Tiffany was simply escorted to her connecting gate for a short hop to Albany.

Since the assault, Tiffany says American Airlines hasn’t once been in contact with her to discuss what happened on flight 1623, and her attempts to reach out to the airline haven’t been answered.

Nearly a year later, Tiffany says she is still to receive any communication from American Airlines about the incident – a fact that Tiffany says demonstrates ‘its indifference to serious sexual misconduct on one of its flights.’

“AA’s failure to act or even respond is not only disappointing and appalling after a corroborated sexual assault on a passenger, but raises serious concerns for other women traveling alone with the Airline,” the lawsuit, which was filed in a Florida district court last week, alleges.

“AA’s ignoring of this incident is unacceptable given the severity of what occurred and its crew’s contemporaneous acknowledgement of the seriousness of the incident and their role in permitting it to happen and/or continue,” the lawsuit continues.

Tiffany is suing American Airlines for negligence while she is also pursuing a civil claim against the suspect for sexual assault and battery.

Matt’s take

Just days after Tiffany’s alleged sexual assault, the FBI issued an urgent warning over what it described as a ‘disturbing’ rise in inflight sexual assaults. The FBI says it has seen a marked increase in the number of reported inflight sexual assaults in recent years following a pandemic-induced slump.

The Department of Justice and FBI have drawn up a list of tips to help keep travelers safe, including urging passengers to limit their use of sleep aids during flights.

The FBI also says that flight attendants have been receiving additional training to help deal with inflight sexual assault allegations, although Tiffany’s lawsuit isn’t the first in recent months to claim that flight attendants didn’t know how to react or deal with what was unfolding onboard.

View Comment (1)
  • “Thank you Tiffany for your loyalty. We are disappointed to hear about your issue on one of our recent flights. We’ve credited your AAdvantage account 5,000 miles”….

    Seriously, I don’t which is worse. The local police that fail to enforce the law or the fact that the FBI didn’t “at least” arrest the guy and haul him in. I’m sure neither agency wanted to do the paperwork. Even if it was a catch and release issue they should have allowed her to press charges against him.

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