Family sues American Airlines after daughter finds camera in plane bathroom

CHARLOTTE — A Charlotte couple has filed a lawsuit against American Airlines after their 14-year-old girl found a camera in the bathroom of their flight two months ago.

It happened on Sept. 2 on a flight from Charlotte to Boston. The father told Channel 9 back in September that it all started when his daughter tried to use one of the economy section bathrooms but they were occupied. He said a male flight attendant told her she could use the first-class bathroom instead.


In the lawsuit, the girl’s parents say the first-class bathroom also had an “occupied” sign.

“Given that the first-class bathroom was also currently occupied, she thought it was odd that the flight attendant directed her to move to the front of the plane to use that bathroom,” the suit reads. “However, as a fourteen-year-old, she had been taught to respect adults.”

There was no one in the bathroom anymore by the time she got there, though. In a September interview, the teen’s father described to Channel 9 what happened next.

“Before she can go in, he stops her and says, ‘Hang on. I need to go in and wash my hands. We’re about to start collecting garbage.’ Which is odd. In retrospect, it’s just a strange thing to say,” he said. “When he came out, he told her ‘The toilet seat is broken. We’re going to fix it when we get back to Charlotte. Don’t worry about it.’ And so, she didn’t think very much of what she saw when she then went in after he left.”

In the lawsuit, the family said the girl found the handwashing request odd, “given that it made more sense for him to wash hands after collecting trash, as opposed to prior to doing so.”

In his interview with Channel 9, the teen’s dad said she went into the bathroom and saw the red sticker tape saying the seat was broken and then used the bathroom.

“When she turned around to flush the toilet afterwards, she realized that there was there was a phone taped underneath that tape,” he said.

The lawsuit says she noticed the camera flash was on.

Before leaving the bathroom, she took the photo below of the camera to show her parents.

The lawsuit alleges the flight attendant went inside the bathroom again as soon she left and locked the door. It says the teen went back to her seat, told her mom what happened, and when her mom tried to warn another passenger, she found that the phone was no longer in the bathroom.

The girl’s dad confronted the flight attendant in question and asked to see his phone, but found him “tapping furiously on his phone,” the lawsuit says. He tried to grab the phone but it was locked, and when the flight attendant did give the father a “cursory” look at his camera roll, “...plaintiff’s father did not see anything that looked like his daughter using the bathroom,” it reads.

In the lawsuit, the family alleges that American Airlines should have known the flight attendant was a danger. It also alleges the flight attendant had his phone for an hour after being called out about the recording, saying the airline should have confiscated the phone. Because they didn’t, American “...allowed the flight attendant to destroy evidence, and exacerbated the harm suffered by Plaintiff,” it reads.

The lawsuit says both parents informed different flight attendants about what happened, and none of them informed the pilot “until after the male flight attendant had already been aware that Plaintiff’s parents suspected him.”

When the family eventually returned to Charlotte, an FBI agent informed the family that “law enforcement had not arrested the male flight attendant because, by the time they searched his phone, they could not find any incriminating photo or video on it.”

The family says they haven’t gotten any more updates from law enforcement and the flight attendant hasn’t been arrested. They also have not been contacted by American Airlines.

The family said their daughter has PTSD and is worried about being in public alone because of what happened.

“She is also extremely anxious about the fact the male flight attendant had access to his phone for an entire hour after the incident and may have distributed any photograph or video of her to other people or uploaded it on the internet,” the suit says.

Channel 9 has reached out to American Airlines for a response to the lawsuit.

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