United Airlines is facing a lawsuit filed by an 18-year-old California high schooler after she was forced to sit through a six hour flight while a man across from her masturbated.
Monica Amestoy was on a flight back to Los Angeles from New York after participating in a debate tournament. It was a normal flight until after the plane took off, and she noticed the man in the aisle seat across from her started masturbating.
"After we took off, the guy on the aisle seat across from me started masturbating and exposing himself while staring at me," she said.
She was 17 at the time, and was terrified to see the man exposing himself in front of her.
Amestoy told a flight attendant what had happened, but the flight attendant said they couldn't do anything about it because there were no seats in her class available to move either of them.
"I thought he would tell the man to stop or move. He did neither. The flight attendant told me he couldn't move me because there were no seats available in my class," she said.
For the duration of the six hour flight, the man continued masturbating, putting a blanket over his lap to hide himself from others. He stopped masturbating when a flight attendant walked by, and continued when they left.
At one point, when the man got up to use the restroom, a flight attendant asked Amestoy if the man had stopped.
She told the attendant that he hadn't, to which the attendant replied that it was "disgusting" but did not do anything about it.
Amestoy said she was even more shocked to find that they had allowed the man to leave the flight when they landed, and did not alert authorities.
Once her father picked her up from the airport, she told him what had happened, and he immediately contacted police.
The man was later arrested and convicted.
The girl's parents sent out a letter to the airline detailing the event, but they only received a formulaic apology email. The family felt "betrayed" by the airline's lack of response.
Now, they have hired prominent attorney Gloria Allred to represent them in the lawsuit. They want United to put a clear policy in place protecting passengers from such incidents in the future.
They are accusing the company of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
The airline said, "The comfort and security of our customers is our top priority, and we will closely review this complaint when we receive it."