LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An unnamed NFL player and a second man filed suit Wednesday against United Airlines alleging that the airline flight crew did little to help them after they complained about alleged sexual misconduct of a female passenger.
The plaintiffs — identified only as John Doe 1, the NFL player, and John Doe 2 — alleged they were victims of sexual assault, sexual battery, negligence and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, is seeking unspecified damages.
According to the lawsuit, the two men and the female passenger were seated in the same row of a Feb. 10 red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey. The plaintiffs are black and the woman is white, the suit stated.
The NFL player lives in New Jersey and the second plaintiff resides in Pennsylvania, the suit stated.
According to the suit, the woman boarded the plane after the majority of the passengers, including the plaintiffs. In the suit, the plaintiffs described her as “disheveled and unbalanced.”
The suit stated that the second plaintiff helped the woman stow her bags in an overhead bin, before she took her seat and allegedly began harassing the NFL player who was wearing a face mask in light of news coverage about the novel coronavirus.
The woman then allegedly began hitting the NFL player’s arm, told him that he was “frightening” and asked why he wore a mask, according to the suit. The player replied that he was being proactive because of growing COVID-19 concerns.
Both plaintiffs stated in the suit that they saw the woman taking unknown prescription medications and both believed she was intoxicated.
The second plaintiff then asked a nearby flight attendant to intervene and put a stop to the woman’s behavior, but the flight attendant failed to come back and check on the situation, the suit stated.
After the second plaintiff sat down again, the woman allegedly continued to make unwanted sexual advances toward the NFL player, said things of a sexual nature and “groped and massaged” his knees and thighs, according to the suit.
“Fearful of the perception of being a male victim and the racial stigma of being a young African-American male, (the player) patiently pleaded for (the woman) to stop…,” the suit stated.
At one point, the suit stated, the NFL player “jumped up from his seat and complained in front of the entire plane” that the woman was inappropriately touching him. He left to notify the same flight attendant, at which time the female passenger allegedly began to sexually accost the second plaintiff, according to the suit.
When the flight attendant reached the plaintiffs’ seats, he asked, “Is this the same lady?,” the suit stated.
According to the suit, the woman admitted that she was drinking and had taken pills before she was moved to another row by the flight attendant.
The plaintiffs said they believed the woman was moved a second time for being disruptive and was ultimately moved to a row with no other passengers.
United presented both plaintiffs with a $150 voucher for their ordeal, the suit stated.
“United does not have and/or enforce adequate policies and procedures to prevent sexual assaults on its flights and to properly respond to such incidents that do happen,” the suit alleged.
A representative for United did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)