‘Own Fault and Negligence’: Airline Blames 9-Year-Old Girl For Being Secretly Recorded In Bathroom

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Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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After being sued by the family of a 9-year-old girl who was secretly recorded in the plane’s bathroom by a flight attendant, American Airlines is blaming the child for the incident, according to new court filings.

New filings from the airline show the company’s lawyers recently arguing the 9-year-old, who is not identified, allegedly knew or should have known the “compromised lavatory” contained “a visible and illuminated recording device,” according to the Boston Herald.

“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,” the filing stated.

Lawsuits against the airline regarding the issue were brought forward after a former flight attendant, Estes Carter Thompson III, was arrested in January for allegedly trying to film minors as they used the plane’s bathroom. Thompson was caught after leading a 14-year-old passenger, flying from Charlotte to Boston in September 2023 to the bathroom only to discover there was an iPhone concealed under what appeared to be a broken toilet seat. (RELATED: Video Shows Passenger Manhandled Off Plane After Yelling Antisemitic Slur)

After the 14-year-old girl took a picture of the concealed phone and brought forward the claim to her parents the flight crew was alerted, triggering an investigation from officials. Authorities later found that Thompson allegedly had recordings of four other girl passengers using the bathroom, which included the 9-year-old girl who had been flying with her family to Disneyland from Texas, according to the Boston Herald.

The child’s parents filed a lawsuit against both American Airlines and Thompson in February claiming the young girl “has suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the incident including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, fearfulness, insomnia, and nightmares,” seeking damages from the two, according to the original filing.

“Instead of taking responsibility for this awful event, American Airlines is actually blaming our daughter for being filmed,” the child’s mother told the Boston Herald. “How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion? It both shocks and angers us. American Airlines has no shame.”

American Airlines lawyers said in the filing that Thompson had not been acting “within the course and scope of his employment,” stating the airline shouldn’t be held “liable” for the former flight assistant’s “alleged actions,” the outlet reported.

“Defendant Thompson was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the alleged wrongful conduct against Plaintiff … this Defendant cannot be held vicariously liable for Defendant Thompson’s alleged actions that occurred outside the course and scope of his employment,” the filing stated.

Thomas is currently being held in federal custody, pleading guilty to both one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor, the Boston Herald reported. Following Thompson’s arrest, American Airlines released a statement stating that they “take these allegations very seriously” and that Thompson’s actions “do not reflect” the airline’s mission.