American Airlines Blames 9 Year Old Filmed In Lavatory By Flight Attendant: She ‘Knew’ And It Was The Girl’s ‘Fault’

Back in September an American Airlines flight attendant was accused of filming a teen girl passenger in the lavatory using a hidden camera on a American’s flight 1441 from Charlotte to Boston.

The man first asked the teen girl to wait, went into the lavatory, and then directed her into the first class bathroom – where she noticed and took a photo of what’s apparently the flight attendant’s iPhone stuck to the toilet in the lavatory with maintenance stickers. According to the girl’s family, he went into the lavatory again once she’d left.

Credit: Lewis & Llewellyn LLP

It turns out this wasn’t the first or even second time he’d done this. According to the FBI, which searched the crewmember’s iCloud accont, he’d “recorded a minor using the bathroom on a plane” four times already in 2023 before he was caught, capturing children “7, 9, 11 and 14 years old” on video. The Bureau also reportedly found several hundred “AI-generated child pornography images.” He’s been charged with possession of child pornography and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and pled not guilty.

I’ve previously reported that American Airlines claims not to be “liable for acts or crimes of its employees” even when those occur during the course of their duties. They think the families should sue the flight attendant, because they are not responsible when the employees that they’ve selected, trained and put into a position of authority in the cabin abuse that position to create child pornography by filming young girls in the lavatory.

However American is now also blaming the 9-year old for what happened to her in its response to a lawsuit.

The airline in a new court filing is arguing that the young girl should have known that the airplane toilet contained a recording device.

“Defendant would show that any injuries or illnesses alleged to have been sustained by Plaintiff, Mary Doe, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s own fault and negligence,” American Airlines’ lawyers wrote in their defense filing.

The airline’s attorneys added about the 9-year-old girl using “the compromised lavatory” on the plane: “She knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device.”

According to American, it seems, any 9 year old victim of child pornography is really to blame because they should have known that the flight attendant American Airlines put there was recording them and did not speak up.

I genuinely do not know what to say, other than American Airlines is not being well-represented by its legal counsel.

  • A natural inclination of a lawyer is to make plenty of arguments, and do whatever they think it takes to win on the basis of law. Not all arguments work well, but if you don’t assert an argument you’re frequently not going to be able to make it in subsequent proceedings.

  • But a good lawyer is more commercially-savvy than that. They aren’t just looking to make arguments in court (no matter how bad or offensive). They are looking out for the business.

  • Some arguments – even good arguments – shouldn’t be made when they’ll hurt the client more than help them.

  • And sometimes a case should be settled even before forcing the plaintiff to survive summary judgment, even before grinding them down in depositions, and even if you think you have a reasonable chance of previaling on the merits.

A lawyer’s job is not just about the law, it’s about helping to guide a client to the best decision for their business given the legal stakes and broader stakes as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The airline needs to settle these kinds of cases. You don’t get any good press from them. Glad that the idiot who did this was caught. He seemed to be progressing. Who puts that set up into a lavatory and then expects someone else not to realize there is a phone there? Well, a nine year old shouldn’t have to figure those kinds of things out. A fourteen year old is definitely savvy enough to figure those kinds of things out. Just imagine his mind set to look at that set up and think, yeah, this is going to fly?!?!

  2. Too many ambulance chasers. I’m all for any company or individual using any technique possible to wear down the opposition and hopefully prevail. We need to make the civil litigation process as painful as possible so everyone doesn’t think they hit the lottery when something bad happens to them.

  3. Wonder what AC would say if it happened to their 9 yr. old. Seriously doubt if we heard the same song.
    Hope AA has to pay dearly

  4. Delta offers a premium, thoughtful, and private lavatory experience in the sky.

  5. Attorneys are generally not commercially oriented. They are usually quite dumb IMHO.

  6. Gary, wasn’t it just last week that you had a story about an American gate agent sexually harassing a passenger by asking to lick her feet and taking pictures of them, and your commentary was that she should “maybe just wear shoes”?

    Sounds like American is taking their lead from you.

  7. This is like Trump being blamed , for being asked for money by women he’s never met .

  8. The parents of this child should be allowed 30 minutes in a sound proof room to “discuss” this matter with this pervert. He should not only be charged and convicted but prohibited from ever flying on any airline and be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

  9. American Airlines is and should be held civally liable and the FA should be criminally charged.

  10. Why do people think the employer is to blame when individuals do terrible things? Oh yeah, money. If AA knew about him and did nothing, ok, but I don’t think this was the case. If there was no negligence on AAs part, then this is a pure money grab. Sue the dirtbag, not his employer.

  11. A 9-year old victim of child pornography is an ambulance chaser. Got it… AA is going to pay dearly both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion.

  12. Judge should impose punitive charges on AA just for trying this line.
    Plus the perp should be slowly hacked to death with dull machetes.
    But back to the real world.

  13. A case of AA not being advised or served well by legal counsel. And please remember this perv also photographed about 100 shots of an unaccompanied minor whilst sleeping in the cabin. How could that activity been ignored by any other vigilant cabin crew, AA you hired him, failed to monitor and now YOU own his sins.

  14. @Manris: You hold the corporation liable for the actions of the employees because you don’t hold the owners liable. That’s the legal trade.

    You also hold the corporation liable so they have an incentive to actively search out evil employees.

  15. Gary, you hit on an interesting facet of in-house counsel vs outside counsel.

    In-house counsel will tend to place the overall best interests of the company ahead of winning/losing on any given case (or at least weigh that into any decision on an individual legal matter).

    Outside litigation counsel, on the other hand, are hired to be mercenaries for a single case at a time. Thus, they aren’t concerned about whether any given argument reflects poorly on the company, so long as it provides a better shot at victory and/or at reducing the settlement amount or damages awarded. The goal with this argument is simply to try to reduce AA’s liability down from 100%. A 10% reduction in AA’s liability would probably more than pay for the attorney’s fees in a case like this.

    Still, the general public isn’t interested in the finer points of litigation strategy and the argument looks bad in the public forum. I’d be very interested to know if AA’s Office of General Counsel reviewed this pleading and approved it for outside counsel to file with the court, or if the GC’s office just turned outside counsel loose to file and argue whatever they see fit. We’ll probably never get that answer.

    Fortunately for AA, most folks fly them out of price and convenience rather than any brand affinity, so they probably won’t take a financial hit from lost bookings resulting from this PR fiasco.

  16. Reminds me a little of Comair #5191 – the surviving first officer’s lawyer (FO was being sued for negligence) argued in a filing that passengers were at least partially at fault since they should have known the airport was dangerous because the need for improvements had been covered by local news. That approach was very quickly abandoned.

  17. Sorry but lawyers are the worst. Can someone from PR review what moronic statements they make. UGH. I know it’s all a tactic but come on.

  18. If you’re not a lawyer, please stop commenting on standard and basically required thing in legal filings. They chose to sue the airline as opposed to going after the criminal. There are specific legal requirements for an employer to be liable. Whether or not you like them or think those elements are ridiculous is irrelevant. They are not “blaming” her – they’re not putting out public comments about this – they’re addressing the specific legal points they are required to address in their filing.

  19. @An actual lawyer is clearly not a commercially savvy lawyer. That’s the point – only interested in the legal standards and not the broader implications for the business.

  20. I’m a million miler on AA but I’ve sworn to never fly on them again. This is just one out of many examples of the high toxicity of the company’s culture.

  21. What a bunch of parasites. AA should learn customer service from Singapore Airlines.

  22. Sounds like a reasonable, well thought out defense, and the pursuit of fair justice, as all attorneys try to do.
    I would blame the kid’s parents too.
    I would also fine the airline for $100 mil!

  23. A child that age cannot sign any legal document. The problem is American Airlines and who they hire. I hope they get sued out of existence over this (sued and lose big time.)

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