In this post-9/11 world, we ask a lot of airport security personnel – they are, after all, our first line of defense against airborne terrorist attacks. We expect them to be vigilant watchdogs, keeping their eyes and ears open for signs of anything unusual in our nation’s airports.
But this is ridiculous.
Ms. Renee Koutsouradis had boarded her flight from Las Vegas to Tampa, and was waiting for the plane to leave the gate, when she was summoned to the front by flight attendants. She was escorted off the plane and down onto the tarmac, where she was informed that “something was vibrating” in her bag (guess what it was). The court explains what happened next:
On the tarmac, in the presence of three Delta male employees, and apparently in view of some of the other passengers still seated on the plane, the gate agent asked Koutsouradis to open her bag and take the batteries out of the vibrator. Koutsouradis alleges that, at this time, one of the Delta male employees . . . made sexually explicit statements toward her, causing the other men to laugh. She claims [he] licked his lips and said “What do [you] need that for?”, “Doesn’t your husband satisfy you?”, and “Come on Baby, let me satisfy you.”
Surprisingly, this smooth-talking luggage-handling lothario failed to win the heart of our heroine. In fact, she found his comments inappropriate and offensive. And so – this is a legal blog, after all – she sued the airline for infliction of emotional distress (among other things), claiming that its boorish bagman had caused her to suffer “panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
How do you think she did at trial?
She lost! The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida struck a mighty blow for freedom, upholding the rights of airport personnel to make sexually suggestive comments to weary travelers, so long as the conduct does not “surpass all boundaries of decency” and is “utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
The case is Koutsouradis v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 427 F.3d 1339 (11th Cir. 2005). To read the decision, click here.