A federal judge has allowed some of the major claims in a North Carolina woman’s $55 million lawsuit against Frontier Airlines to move forward.
Rosetta Swinney sued Frontier Airlines after a harrowing and degrading experience she alleges she and her 14-year-old daughter had when boarding a flight from Las Vegas to Raleigh Durham International Airport last year.
Ms. Swinney and her daughter found one of their seats covered in vomit, including on the seatback tray, inside the seat pocket, and on the ground.
She summoned a flight attendant for assistance. The flight attendant returned and handed Ms. Swinney’s daughter Clorox wipes to clean the area with, even though the mess wasn’t theirs. When Ms. Swinney told the flight attendant to clean it up, she said “it was not her job,” the lawsuit alleges.
Another passenger who witnessed the exchange asked the flight attendant whose job it was and she “shrugged her shoulders,” then walked to the front of the plane, abandoning Ms. Swinney.
After waiting for about 10 minutes, Ms. Swinney walked to the front of the place and asked that someone on the flight crew take care of the vomit problem. Ms. Swinney also asked the flight attendant with whom she spoke earlier what her name was and also asked to speak to her supervisor.
The flight attendant told Ms. Swinney not to worry about her name because she wouldn’t be on that flight “no matter what,” the lawsuit alleges.
Ms. Swinney and her daughter chose to move to two vacant seats. Another Frontier employee then ordered her and her daughter to exit the plane. When she refused, the crew called in law enforcement. The passengers were told “because of one rude passenger we are asking everyone to deplane,” the lawsuit alleges.
Police officers arrived inside the aircraft and told Ms. Swinney she had to leave the plane, but she refused. The police then directed everybody off the aircraft and arrested Ms. Swinney in the gate area for trespassing. She was handcuffed and led out of the airport as her distraught daughter looked on.
Law enforcement officers brought the daughter to a Nevada Child Protective Services holding facility in Las Vegas, where she remained for 12 hours.
Upon returning home, the family was subjected to a “well-being visit” by North Carolina Child Protective Services personnel.
Ms. Swinney filed the lawsuit in a North Carolina federal court in August 2019. Frontier Airlines filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence that the company violated a law or that she was entitled to judicial remedy.
Judge Loretta Biggs dismissed some of Ms. Swinney’s claims but allowed slander, libel, and negligence claims to move forward.
One of Ms. Swinney’s lawyers welcomed the judge’s decision, telling the Charlotte News and Observer that “the major claim survived.”