Apr 09

Spirit Airlines passengers battered in fight sue the carrier for continuing to serve alcohol to assailants, failure to protect them

By Nancy Dillon, New York Daily News, Thursday, April 7, 2016

An in-flight riot over a noisy boom box is causing more turbulence for Spirit Airlines. (March 9, 2016)

Three passengers involved in the cabin clash last month sued the carrier Thursday claiming it fueled the flap with copious amounts of alcohol and failed to protect them from injury.

The tail-end of the incident was filmed by other passengers, and wild video of women slapping and grabbing each other over seatbacks quickly went viral.

Gloria Allred announced a lawsuit against Spirit Airlines beside her clients, from left, Lisa Zampella, Tykisha Diadato and Danielle Fonda-Thomas, who were all involved in a fight on board the carrier’s plane.

Gloria Allred announced a lawsuit against Spirit Airlines beside her clients, from left, Lisa Zampella, Tykisha Diadato and Danielle Fonda-Thomas, who were all involved in a fight on board the carrier’s plane.

“I am upset that the Spirit Airlines failed to protect us, disregarded our safety, and instead continued to serve the women in front of us alcoholic beverages even though they were clearly intoxicated and behaving aggressively,” passenger and plaintiff Tykisha Diodato said in a statement Thursday.

Diodato and her friends — fellow plaintiffs Lisa Zampella and Danielle Fonda-Thomas — say they were on the March 9 flight from Baltimore to Los Angeles for a long-awaited vacation.

They claim three other female passengers seated near them got drunk during the flight, blared music from a blue tooth speaker for hours, sang loudly and stood and danced in the cabin, their lawyer Gloria Allred said at a press conference in New York.

When asked hours into the flight to lower the volume of the music, the rowdy passengers did so for a few minutes but then cranked the volume even higher, Allred said.

Shortly before landing, a female flight attendant who allegedly danced to the women’s music earlier in the flight returned and provided them with additional rounds of alcoholic beverages despite their aggressive behavior, the plaintiffs claim.

The tail-end of the incident was filmed by other passengers, and wild video of women slapping and grabbing each other over seatbacks quickly went viral.

The tail-end of the incident was filmed by other passengers, and wild video of women slapping and grabbing each other over seatbacks quickly went viral.

Upon touching down at LAX, the drunk women allegedly began shouting offensive and racist remarks and made the first move in the violent scuffle, Allred said.

“F–k white people!” they yelled, according to Allred.

“What are these f—ing people going to do?”

Allred said her clients were “offended by these racial remarks.”

“Ms. Fonda-Thomas politely informed them that their language was inappropriate in front of children. Unprovoked, one of the intoxicated female passengers stood up, turned around, and began to batter and assault Ms. Fonda-Thomas,” Allred said.

A second intoxicated passenger also began to attack Fonda-Thomas — and that’s when Diodato and Zampella rushed to her defense and also suffered physical injuries, Allred said.

“It was not a mutual combat situation as some have described in prior reports,” Allred said.

“Because there is a lawsuit we are not at liberty to describe the specifics of their injuries,” Allred told the Daily News when asked to elaborate on her client’s alleged physical trauma.

She said her clients are seeking compensatory and punitive damages at trial.

A Spirit spokesman denied the charges in a statement to The News.

Allred said her clients are seeking compensatory and punitive damages at from the airline at trial.

Allred said her clients are seeking compensatory and punitive damages at from the airline at trial.

“The flight had just landed at LAX and the flight attendants were in their jump seats as required by law. When the fight began, our flight attendants immediately moved to break it up. It is not our practice to over-serve alcohol to anyone,” Spirit spokesman Paul Berry said Thursday.

Fonda-Thomas called the experience a “nightmare.”

“On that flight we became victims to a very bad situation and negligence of the airline. It was the first time in my life that I felt unsafe on public transportation,” she said.

“The flight attendants failed to take control of the situation before it got to the point where we were physically attacked, humiliated, and escorted off the plane as if we were criminals.”

Zampella said the flight crew should have stopped serving the women and ensured a peaceful flight for all passengers.

“I fear for anyone who travels with this airline that obviously doesn’t take their passengers’ safety seriously,” she said in a statement.

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