NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — Taking Virgin America and a flight attendant to court, husband-and-wife reality stars James and Amber Marchese say they concocted claims of domestic abuse got them booted from a plane.
The Marcheses filed their federal complaint Tuesday with a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey.
The couple, who reside in Colts Neck with their children, appeared on the sixth season of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," and can currently be seen on "Marriage Boot Camp," the eighth season of which premiered on Oct. 7.
The Marcheses say that while boarding a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Newark in April, Rosser, a flight attendant on the plane, recognized them and "commented that she did not like James."
The Marcheses say they "pretended to ignore the nasty comment."
The complaint says that after the Marcheses "engaged in some flirtatious behavior and conversation while in their first-class seats," James fell asleep.
Moments later, before the aircraft left the gate, "police boarded the plane after [they] had been notified by Rosser that there was a domestic violence incident on the plane between the Marcheses wherein James choked and threatened Amber."
The Marcheses claim airport police removed them from the plane and separated them for questioning, "indicating that the police had been informed of a domestic violence dispute and, specifically, that James allegedly threatened and strangled Amber on the airplane."
They say that police requested that Amber sign a statement alleging domestic abuse, but she "repeatedly told them no domestic abuse occurred."
Despite this, the complaint says, James was handcuffed and taken into police custody in LAX where he was arrested for domestic violence.
Amber posted a $50,000 bond for James' release a few hours later.
But the couple says the unfortunate incident didn't end with James Marchese's release.
"TMZ, a well-known reporting paparazzi paper and TV station, arrived at the police station simultaneously with James" and "waited for the Marcheses to leave the police station," the complaint says.
"As James was released from jail, the Marcheses were greeted with photographers and paparazzi that captured this moment and proceeded to publish it," the couple says
The Marcheses say that no charges were ultimately filed against James because there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by either of them. They say the police "identified the only eyewitness as Rosser, who reported the alleged incident."
The Marcheses say that Rosser "made the statement with a reckless disregard for the statement's truth or falsity" and claim that it was defamatory in nature, "as it dealt with the personal reputation and character of the Marcheses with the intent to cause reputational and career damage for Rosser's own self-promotion and '30 seconds of fame.'" (34)
The Marcheses claim that "numerous articles and postings on the internet via social media and tabloid websites have disparaged [them] by portraying their relationship as abusive and by showcasing James as someone that would abuse his wife."
Dave Arnold, director of corporate communications for Virgin America, told Courthouse News that "there is no merit to this lawsuit and Virgin America will defend the claims made against our teammate."
The Marcheses seek damages for eight courts of defamation, negligence, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and breach of contract.
They are represented by Joshua Bauchner with Ansell, Grimm & Aaron of Woodland Park, New Jersey.