The week after news broke about twin lawsuits filed against Frontier Airlines by pregnant or breastfeeding pilots and flight attendants comes word of new and potentially even more devastating litigation: a class-action complaint put forward on behalf of Army veteran Lena Ramsay and another woman who say they were sexually assaulted on Frontier flights out of Denver. Both claim the carrier failed to take proper action to deal with these disturbing incidents.
A statement from Frontier notes that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation but stresses that "the safety of our passengers and crew members is our number one priority at Frontier Airlines and we have strict policies in place to proactively and appropriately respond to reports of misconduct and alleged crimes."
Produced by New York's Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Massachusetts-based attorney Tyler Fox and Pamela Maass, a lawyer in Littleton, the suit attempts to put the assaults on Ramsay and the second plaintiff, referred to as Jane Doe, into a larger context. The introduction points out that "the prevalence of passenger-on-passenger in-flight sexual assault is a well-known, and growing, problem. In fact, in 2018, the FBI issued a warning — to airlines and the public at large — that the number of sexual assaults reported during commercial airline flights has been increasing 'at an alarming rate.'"
The document goes on to assert that "Frontier violated this duty by failing to implement and enforce appropriate policies and procedures to prevent, or properly respond to, sexual assaults that occur on its flights; failing to report in-flight sexual assaults to the proper authorities, or to any authorities; and failing to cooperate with authorities in the reporting and investigation process into in-flight sexual assaults. As a result of these violations by Frontier, Plaintiffs were sexually assaulted by their fellow passengers while they were on Frontier flights, and are at an ongoing risk for future sexual assaults."
The accounts of what happened to Ramsay and Doe are relatively brief. Ramsay is said to have been "sexually assaulted by a male passenger on a Frontier flight from Denver to Providence on or about October 20, 2018." She immediately reported the offense to a flight attendant who "refused to let her switch seats to move away from her assailant" and "did not report the incident to anyone else" or "ask that law enforcement be contacted to meet the plane upon landing." Frontier is accused of failing to cooperate with Ramsay because it would not reveal to the FBI the names of the passenger in question or potential witnesses.
Jane Doe, meanwhile, is identified as a Denver resident who was flying on Frontier from Denver to Florida when she, too, was sexually assaulted by a male passenger. According to the suit, the rest of her experience was identical to Ramsay's, in that she told a flight attendant who failed to inform police or others, and the airline didn't assist her in compiling evidence.
More details on the assault against Ramsay were shared this past January in a report broadcast nationally by NBC in which she appeared along with attorney Fox. At the time, she revealed that she had been sexually assaulted by a male passenger sitting behind her.
"I kept questioning myself, asking myself, 'Is this really happening? Is somebody really putting their hands in between the seat touching me?'" Ramsay said. She stressed, "I was devastated."
Afterward, Ramsay recalled, she got up from her seat and informed a flight attendant, who told her to go back to her seat. She was expecting police to be waiting for her when they landed, but that wasn't the case. She maintains that the flight attendant escorted the man who assaulted her away: "I stayed on the plane while she helped him get off."
Ramsay subsequently tracked down the flight's pilot, who put her in touch with the police. She later connected with Fox, and together, they contacted the FBI, which was said to have been investigating the event.
Frontier's January statement reads: "Safety is the top priority at Frontier Airlines and we have zero tolerance for anything that could affect the safety and security of our customers and crew. Law enforcement was notified upon arrival of the flight, a report was prepared and federal authorities were informed. We have and continue to support the FBI in its investigation."
As for Ramsay, she summed up her trip by saying, "I wouldn't wish this upon anybody."
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Click to read Lena Ramsay and Jane Doe v. Frontier Inc.
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