A female passenger has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines after she woke up mid-flight to find a man sitting next to her touching her sexually while masturbating.
According to NBC Chicago, the victim, identified as Anne Dowling, was on a United flight from Hong Kong to Colorado in July 2016 when she was upgraded to a business class seat next to an off-duty FedEx pilot named Monte Wedl.
The lawsuit claims Wedl drank several vodka sodas and took Ambien before he started touching the sleeping woman while masturbating. Dowling allegedly woke up and found Wedl’s hand near her butt, removed it and fell back asleep.
Dowling was forced to push the man away two more times as he grabbed toward her crotch before finally standing up and notifying the flight attendants of the situation. Crew members initially told her there were no seats available for her to move, but she was eventually permitted to switch seats after pleading with attendants.
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“We can’t comment on this case because of pending litigation, but safety is our top priority and we’re always looking for more we can do to ensure the safety and security of the hundreds of thousands of people who fly United every day,” United spokeswoman Erin Benson told NBC Chicago.
Documents show Dowling claims to have suffered “physical pain and suffering, shock, emotional distress, embarrassment, mortification, anxiety, anguish” and more. She believes United employees were negligent and allowed the sexual assault to continue.
As for Wedl, a FedEx spokesperson told NBC that he is no longer an employee of the company. Dowling is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $75,000.
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