Sexual Assault in Flight Alleged
RICHMOND, Texas (CN) - A man sexually assaulted a woman as she slept on a commercial airline flight, "tearing (her) pubic hair," she claims in court.
Lisa Heal, a married woman with a 5-year-old son, sued Dinesh Shukla in Fort Bend County Court.
She claims Shukla sexually assaulted her as she slept on a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to London, accompanied by her son, on Christmas Eve 2010.
Continental Airlines is not a party to the complaint.
According to the complaint: "After plaintiff Lisa Heal took her seat 19-K on CO45, with her son adjacent in 19-L by the window, the doors were closed and the seat belt signs were illuminated. At that point passenger Dinesh Shukla abandoned his assigned seat, and moved into and occupied the seat 19-J adjacent and next to plaintiff Lisa Heal.
"During the course of flight CO45 on December 24, 2010 from IAH to LHR, defendant Dinesh Shukla acted in a lewd, disgusting and inappropriate manner toward the plaintiff Lisa Heal."
She claims Shukla's abuse "was of an open and obvious nature," that he "sexually assaulted" her.
"Throughout this ordeal the plaintiff Lisa Heal has suffered from shock, embarrassment, pain from injury, and disbelief."
She says her son suffered from it too.
"As a direct and proximate result of the acts or omissions of defendant, plaintiff Lisa Heal was caused to suffer physical injury from sexual attack, vaginal penetration and the tearing of pubic hair, and severe psychological injuries arising directly from the sexual attack," the complaint states.
It adds: "As a result of his witnessing all of the foregoing for hours after all the other passengers disembarked, plaintiff [Heal's son] suffered shock, fright, mental anguish, pain and suffering, severe depression, including sleeplessness, constant fear from reliving the event, social withdrawal, loss of interest in normal family and friend activities, and also stomach aches, low self-esteem and negative identity."
It is unclear from the complaint what is meant by "witnessing all of the foregoing for hours after all the other passengers disembarked": whether her son and/or Heal were held aboard the airline after it landed, or the attack continued after the plane landed.
Heal seeks punitive damages for offensive physical contact, infliction of bodily injury and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by John Kinchen with Hughes Arrell Kinchen in Houston.