American Airlines is being sued for $3.4 million in damages by a woman and her family for failing to prevent — or later investigate — an incident in 2015 in which they claim that an airline flight attendant purposely ruined the woman's wedding dress.
In August of 2015, Yewande Oteh was boarding a Philadelphia flight to Jamaica with her 9-month-old son and her fiancé, Chidi Oteh, for their wedding. At the airport, a ticket agent informed Oteh that she could carry her wedding dress onto the plane, where she could hang it in a closet.
When she boarded, Oteh, a recent law school graduate then living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, asked flight attendant Melanie Masters where she could hang the dress. According to Oteh, the air hostess “became indignant and agitated,” telling her “in a hostile aggressive way” that the closet was not for passenger use. Instead, Oteh was told to place her dress in an empty first class overhead compartment.
Oteh further claims that at one point during the flight, she saw Masters “open the bin with her right hand, while something was occupying her left hand.” Oteh, who was unable to identify exactly what was in Masters’ hand, also said that she later saw Masters and another flight attendant open the overhead compartment, holding her dress.
Upon landing and retrieving the dress, Oteh found that it had been ruined after substance later found to be red wine, had been spilled on it. No wine or alcohol bottles were present in the overhead bin with the dress, and according to the lawsuit, Oteh and her partner saw no one except Masters access it. While it does not name the flight attendant as a defendant, the lawsuit does also name US Airways Group, which merged with American Airlines after the incident.
Oteh, now a resident of Boston, claims that she was so upset by the loss of her wedding dress that she became physically sick and missed some of her wedding activities. As she was unable to get the dress cleaned in time for the wedding, Oteh spent hours in Jamaica looking for a new one, before her sister flew to Florida to buy her multiple dresses to choose from.
After Oteh disembarked the flight in August of 2015, she spoke with airport police and the plane was stopped prior to departure so that flight staff could be questioned. However, Oteh and her family still believe that the airline did not do a proper investigation into the flight attendant’s conduct and simply denied any wrongdoing. She and her family are asking for $3.4 million in damages, plus interest and legal costs and fees, claiming that the loss of the dress “caused a lifetime of damage,” and that Oteh “failed to enjoy the wedding as she was in a dress that was not the one she spent months looking for.”
American Airlines is being accused of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, causing the plaintiff “physical and mental injuries.” In response to a media inquiry, an airline spokesperson refused to comment, other than to say that the company was reviewing the lawsuit.
They probably won't pour red wine around, but here are 13 things your flight attendant won't tell you.