PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — An irate father sued American Airlines for $10 million, claiming it let a drunk man sexually fondle his 13-year-old daughter for half an hour, though he paid it a $300 “unaccompanied minor” fee to keep her safe.
R.M. sued American Airlines and Chad Cameron Camp in Federal Court on Tuesday, seeking punitive damages for battery, negligence and common carrier liability.
Camp was arrested after the flight landed in Portland, and charged with abusive sexual contact with a minor, according to a June 16 affidavit in support of a criminal complaint and arrest warrant, from an FBI agent. Camp is free on bail, awaiting a July 15 arraignment.
Camp, 26, sat next to the girl on a June 15 flight from Dallas to Portland.
Her father says in the complaint that he “was required” to pay the unaccompanied minor fee for his daughter, $150 each way, “on top of the regular cost of the ticket.”
All they got for it, he says, was that airline staff met his daughter, M.W., one hour before the flight, as “a fail-safe of sorts.”
But they sat a drunken man next to her, alone together in their row, though the plane was only half full. Camp was seen drinking four mixed drinks before the flight, and he was mumbling to himself when he boarded, the father says in the complaint.
Things started bad and then got worse. “The first word out of his mouth when seated next to M.W. was ‘fu**,'” according to the lawsuit. (Spelling as in complaint.)
A flight attendant asked Camp if he would like to move to another row, where he could sit alone. “No,” he said. “I’m fine.” But the attendant did not ask his daughter if she wanted to move, the father says.
The complaint continues: “Almost immediately, and without intervention from American, Camp began to rub up against M.W., lean close to her and fondle her body with his hand. This groping eventually progressed to Camp touching her upper and lower leg and finally to her crotch.
“This horrendous set of events lasted approximately thirty (30) minutes without
“Camp was finally demanded to move from the seat directly next to M. W. to the back of the airplane when a flight attendant serving snacks saw Camp with his hand in M.W.’s crotch and a tear falling from her cheek, although he initially refused to leave the row.”
Finally, attendants moved M.W. to the front of the plane and moved Camp to the back. The airline notified the FBI, which arrested Camp when the plane landed at Portland International Airport.
Camp’s attorney Steven Lindsey could not be reached by phone Thursday.
American on its website that services for the unaccompanied minor fee include chaperoning the child onto the plane before the flight, before other passengers are seated, introducing her to flight attendants, and releasing her to her guardian at the flight’s destination.
American told Courthouse News in an email that it “cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them.”
American in autumn 2014 expanded its unaccompanied minor fee for children from 5 to 12 to 5 to 14.
The father’s attorney, Brent Goodfellow, said that while it was likely a revenue-related decision to expand the fee, there are a host of things American could have done that would have cost it nothing.
He suggested putting kids in the front of the plane, where “unless they are asleep,” flight attendants would have an easier time keeping an eye on them. And if an unrelated adult is seated next to a child, a second adult should be in the row with them, Goodfellow said.
“If I pay money to somebody for daycare or to babysit my child, there are a lot of unsaid expectations,” Goodfellow said in an interview. “First and foremost being that you will keep them safe from harm. Allowing an intoxicated man to sit next to a 13-year-old girl who is trapped against the window starts me questioning the level of care they provided this child.”
Goodfellow’s office is in McMinnville.
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