Woman groped on overnight flight sues airline for letting the man walk free

Allison Dvaladze is suing Delta Airlines for its handling of a sexual assault incident that happen more than two years ago on a flight to Amsterdam.
Allison Dvaladze is suing Delta Airlines for its handling of a sexual assault incident that happen more than two years ago on a flight to Amsterdam. Photo credit: The Seattle Times

An American woman who woke up on a overnight flight to a man grabbing her crotch is suing Delta Airlines for its handling of the incident. 

Allison Dvaladze, director of global strategy at a Seattle-based business, was on a flight for Amsterdam then east Africa on April 15, 2016, on her way to help run a cancer program for developing countries, the Seattle Times reports.

After almost two years of inaction from the airline, Ms Dvaladze is suing over the incident. 

She has launched a Facebook campaign to draw attention to such assaults. 

"I've run into a brick wall with Delta," Ms Dvaladze said in a phone interview. 

"This keeps on happening. Airlines need to acknowledge that it's a problem and that ignoring it is not acceptable."

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Seattle on Tuesday, says Ms Dvaladze ran to the back of the plane to alert flight crew after she was assaulted, and the crew's response was inadequate.

The suit alleges the airline did not have clear policies in place to deal with sexual assaults and did not adequately train its flight crews on how to respond to victims.

Ms Dvaladze says she was allowed to change seats but before landing, crew asked her to return to her original seat. She refused to do so. 

Flight attendants did not contact law enforcement, and as a result the culprit walked off the plane in Amsterdam without consequences, the suit says.

Ms Dvaladze said she was told the man wasn't sitting in his assigned seat and the crew did not establish his identity. 

The FBI opened an investigation after Ms Dvaladze returned to Seattle weeks later, but was unable to identify the man.

After Ms Dvaladze complained to the airline, Delta offered her 10,000 SkyMiles as a "small token in hopes of easing some of the frustration and inconvenience you may have felt". 

The lawsuit alleges that Delta is liable under the Montreal Convention, which governs international air travel. That treaty says an airline is liable for "bodily injury" suffered by a passenger due to any accident while on board the plane. 

Delta Airlines declined to comment.

Newshub.