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American Airlines Passenger Threatens Defamation Lawsuit Over Reclining Chair Incident

by : Lucy Connolly on : 15 Feb 2020 15:31
American Airlines Passenger Threatens Defamation LawsuitAmerican Airlines Passenger Threatens Defamation LawsuitCaters

One of the passengers involved in the American Airlines dispute regarding a reclining seat is now threatening the airline with a defamation lawsuit.

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Wendi Williams had been flying from New Orleans to Charlotte on an American Eagle flight, a subsidiary of American Airlines, when the man behind her began repeatedly punching the back of her reclined seat.

In now-viral footage of the incident, the unidentified male passenger can be seen sitting directly behind Wendi, in the back row of the plane. Because he was unable to recline his seat, he retaliated when Wendi did so by pummelling her’s.

You can watch the altercation below:

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After the footage was shared online, a rep for American Airlines told TMZ they were looking into the matter, saying the whole thing started when Wendi reclined her seat and knocked the man’s drink over.

The rep said they tried to deescalate the situation by asking Wendi to stop filming, adding that the whole thing would not have been an issue if both passengers would have just been respectful to each other.

It’s these comments which have led Wendi to meet with an attorney on Friday, February 14, to discuss what – if any – legal action she can take against the airline. And now she’s threatening them with a defamation lawsuit.

man punches reclining seatman punches reclining seatCaters

Wendi claims she never knocked over the man’s drink, and if she did it would have been a complete accident.

The passenger believes she was defamed when the airline accused her of spilling the drink and of being disruptive, when they handed her a ‘Passenger Disturbance Notice’ – obtained by TMZ – for her alleged behaviour.

She claims the airline took the side of the man who punched her chair, giving him a ‘complimentary cocktail’ and acknowledging it was ‘tight’ where he was sitting. AA also apparently told Wendi to stop filming.

The attendant even went as far as to threaten to remove Wendi from the plane if she didn’t delete the footage, she has since claimed.

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Wendi claims blame has been placed entirely on her for the incident, and the claims put forward by the airline are all defamatory. ‘They have pushed me way too far, literally and figuratively,’ she told TMZ.

However, a source at the airline said Wendi won’t receive any money from them – despite having reached out last week asking for compensation – because it’s a ‘passenger versus passenger’ dispute.

The airline also said they won’t be referring the incident to authorities, despite the ‘Passenger Disturbance Notice’ stating Wendi could be federally prosecuted if she didn’t comply.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, American Airlines, Controversy, Defamation, Passenger Disturbance Notice, Reclining Seat

Credits

TMZ and 2 others