DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham woman who was kicked off a Frontier Airlines flight in April is suing the company for $55 million, accusing it of gross negligence and defamation.
Rosetta Swinney filed the civil lawsuit Thursday in federal court.
She and her daughter had just attended a wedding last April and were headed home to Durham from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas when the incident unfolded on the Frontier flight.
According to the suit, the plane was already delayed so staff could clean the aircraft.
That's why Swinney was surprised that the seat was still dirty when she boarded with her daughter.
"She jumped up to say, 'Mom! My hands are wet.' She smelled it. She says, 'This is vomit, mom.' So we went to look. It was on the bag, all over her shirt, her hands," Swinney told ABC11.
Swinney claims the flight attendant offered bleach wipes but said "it was not her job" to clean up the mess.
The disagreement eventually led to Swinney and her daughter being forced off the plane. Back at the gate, Swinney was arrested for trespassing.
The charges were dropped last month.
She said her daughter was put in Nevada's child protective custody for 12 hours before being reunited with her mother.
In April, Frontier released this statement:
"During boarding of flight 2066 from McCarran International Airport (LAS) to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) last week, two passengers told the flight attendants that vomit was present in their seat area. The flight attendants apologized and immediately invited the mother and her teenage daughter to move to either end of the plane so that the seat area could be cleaned. The mother and daughter were also told that once boarding was complete they would be provided other seats if available. The daughter was also offered cleaning products and invited to use the lavatory to wash up. The mother was unsatisfied with the response and became disruptive. As a result, the flight attendants determined that the mother and daughter should be deplaned and accommodated on another flight. The mother refused, and following procedure, law enforcement was called. Law enforcement then requested that everyone deplane so that the mother and daughter could be removed allowing the aircraft to be re-boarded and depart. We apologized to our passengers for the inconvenience caused by the departure delay. The safety of passengers and crew is our top priority at Frontier."
The newly-filed lawsuit claims Frontier Airlines' statement defamed Swinney and does not reflect what happened. The suit says passengers also support Swinney's side of the story.
Swinney is also suing the flight attendants involved in the confrontation and the cleaning company allegedly responsible for cleaning the plane.
The documents list a total of six reasons for bringing the suit against Frontier Airlines: Abuse of process, Defamation, Negligence, Gross negligence and Intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Attorneys for Swinney say Frontier Airlines has 21 days to respond to the complaint.
Frontier Airlines, when reached for comment, said it "does not comment on pending litigation."
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