Lawsuit: Spirit Airlines removed 15-year-old from flight without mother’s knowledge

Credit: Joe Raedle

Credit: Joe Raedle

In a recent federal lawsuit, a Michigan woman says Spirit Airlines employees booted her 15-year-old daughter from a flight without her knowledge.

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The alleged incident happened April 9, 2018, when Stacy Giordano was flying with her two children from Tampa, Florida, to Detroit. Giordano was sitting near the back of the aircraft with her son, while her daughter was assigned to a set near the front, WXYZ-TV reported.

Spirit employees removed Giordano’s 15-year-old daughter from the plane because of overbooking, Giordano's attorney, Jerry Thurswell, told the news station. Giordano wasn’t made aware that her daughter was removed, and the girl wasn’t given a chance to talk to her mother before getting off the plane, Thurswell said.

“When the child says, ‘My mother’s in the back of the plane, why are you taking me off?’ And they just take the child off and say, ‘Sit here, you’ll be on the next flight out.’ ... You don’t just separate a child from their mother," Thurswell said.

The teen tried to call and text message her mother, Thurswell said, but Giordano’s cellphone was on airplane mode. It wasn’t until midway through the flight that Giordano realized her daughter wasn’t on the plane.

Both Giordano and her daughter experienced emotional distress during the separation, according to the lawsuit. Giordano “became sick, suffered a panic attack and suffered great emotional distress, extreme fear, horror, mental shock, mental anguish and psychological trauma” in not knowing where her daughter was, the lawsuit said.

When she landed in Detroit, the lawsuit said Giordano learned her daughter had been left in the Tampa airport for three hours, unsupervised, before being placed on the next flight to Detroit.

The lawsuit, assigned to Wayne Circuit Judge Lita Masini Popke, said Spirit employees were “careless and negligent" in their actions when handling the situation. Giordano is asking for $75,000 in damages.

Spirit refunded Giordano a ticket and offered her extra flight miles, Thurswell said.

A Spirit Airlines official told WXYZ-TV the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but said, “The safety and security of our Guests is our top priority.”

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