Even though their lawsuit against United Airlines has been dismissed, a gay couple from maintains that they were deliberately victimized by the airline.
Christopher Bridgeman and husband Martin Borger sued United Airlines for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress following their trip to Costa Rica, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The couple claimed that Borger’s black duffel bag emerged on a Norfolk International Airport carousel with a purple sex toy protruding and fouled by fecal matter.
US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt threw out the case on Friday on the grounds that the couple could not definitively prove who mishandled their luggage.
According to the lawsuit, after a trip to Costa Rica in May 2011, the couple returned to the United States on a Continental (since merged with United) flight with a connection at Houston, landing uneventfully at ORF Norfolk, Va.
However, when they proceeded to the luggage carousel, the couple claim their bag had been rifled through and a previously packed sex toy was taped to the outside.
The couple alleges they were targeted by the airline because of their lifestyle. In testimony heard this week, Bridgeman said both he and his husband suffer from anxiety and other physiological issues as a result of the incident.
Lawyers for the airline argued that the couple’s bag was overstuffed and any correlation with their lifestyle was coincidental. In his opening statement, United lawyer Edward Adams told the court that the two men were not shamed by the alleged event.
The airline pressed the point that it did not believe its employees were responsible for the sex toy’s exposure and, even if they were, the corporate entity should not be held liable for workers acting outside of the scope of their employment.
Adams also mentioned the potential role of the Transportation Safety Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security tasked with inspecting passengers and baggage in the nation’s airports, as a possible reason for the device being taped outside the bag. There has been no evidence that anyone from United, Continental or any of the defendants authorized … any of the acts alleged,” Adams said.
In a summary judgment at the request of Adams, Hoyt dismissed all claims made in the lawsuit, saying that the couple could not prove a United employee was responsible and that the Transportation Security Administration could have played a potential role if their bag warranted an inspection.
The couple’s lawyer, Dax Faubus, says they will appeal the ruling as it was “very much in error” both factually and legally.