Skip to content

American Airlines blames 9-year-old girl for being filmed in plane bathroom: ‘Shocking and outrageous’

The airline is citing the girl’s ‘own fault and negligence’

Estes Carter Thompson III, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina. (Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority)
Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority
Estes Carter Thompson III, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina.

American Airlines, facing lawsuits after , is blaming a 9-year-old girl for being secretly recorded.

The airline in a new court filing is arguing that the young girl should have known that the airplane toilet contained a recording device.

For update, see: American Airlines calls court filing ‘an error’

“Defendant would show that any injuries or illnesses alleged to have been sustained by Plaintiff, Mary Doe, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s own fault and negligence,” American Airlines’ lawyers wrote in their defense filing.

The airline’s attorneys added about the 9-year-old girl using “the compromised lavatory” on the plane: “She knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device.”

The lawsuits against American Airlines started after a former .

Estes Carter Thompson III, 36, of Charlotte, N.C., also allegedly had recordings of four other girl passengers using airplane lavatories — including the 9-year-old girl, who’s from Texas and was flying with her family to go to Disneyland.

During the flight last year, she was secretly filmed while using the airplane toilet, according to the family’s lawsuit against American Airlines. The family is arguing that the airline knew or should have known that Thompson “was a danger.”

The family and their attorneys were shocked by this recent court filing from American Airlines.

“Instead of taking responsibility for this awful event, American Airlines is actually blaming our daughter for being filmed,” the girl’s mother said in a statement. “How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion? It both shocks and angers us. American Airlines has no shame.”

Attorney Paul Llewellyn, a partner at Lewis & Llewellyn LLP, said, “To blame a 9 year old for being filmed while using the airplane bathroom is both shocking and outrageous. In my opinion this is a depraved legal strategy that sinks to a new low. American Airlines should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

Thompson was arraigned on the federal charges connection to the Boston-bound flight during a U.S. District Court of Massachusetts hearing on Monday.

Thompson, who’s in federal custody, pleaded not guilty to one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children, and one count of possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor.

In American Airlines’ recent court filing, the airline’s attorneys also wrote: “Defendant Thompson was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the alleged wrongful conduct against Plaintiff… this Defendant (American) cannot be held vicariously liable for Defendant Thompson’s alleged actions that occurred outside the course and scope of his employment.”

American Airlines did not immediately respond to comment on Tuesday.

After Thompson was arrested in January, the airline said, “We take these allegations very seriously. They do not reflect our airline or our core mission of caring for people. We have been fully cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation, as there is nothing more important than the safety and security of our customers and team.”

More in Transportation