A Riverside County social services worker is suing American Airlines in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that she and a year-old boy she was bringing home from a court-ordered visit were wrongfully detained on a false assumption she may have kidnapped the child.
Shannon Murphy's lawsuit alleges civil rights violations, false imprisonment and negligence. She is seeking unspecified damages.
A representative for the airline issued a statement today regarding the complaint filed June 18.
"We are reviewing the lawsuit and the details of the flight,'' the statement reads. "We take the safety and comfort of our customers very seriously and we're committed to providing a positive experience for everyone who travels with us.''
Murphy lives in Riverside County and is a social services assistant for that county, according to her court papers. The plaintiff, who is Black, was assigned to accompany a 1-year-old white boy with blond hair to Arkansas for a court-ordered, two-week visit with his father, according to the suit, which does not state the date of the trip.
On the return flight, another passenger told a flight attendant that Murphy was holding a kidnap victim, the suit states. There was a report of a missing child, but he was actually from New York City, was Latino and had black hair, the suit says.
An AA employee "explicitly demanded and implicitly threatened plaintiff and the infant that if she did not come with her, physical force would be used to make plaintiff comply,'' the suit alleges.
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The boy was then taken from Murphy's arms and she was forced to leave the jet, the suit states. The plane's departure was held up for about an hour while employees of the carrier looked into the allegation, the suit states.
AA employees refused to listen to Murphy, to view the court order to transport the child or check her identification or the boy's birth certificate, according to the suit, which says the plaintiff and the child were ultimately allowed to return together to the jet.
Murphy suffered mental and physical distress from the incident and she is seeing a psychologist, the suit states.