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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

American Airlines Flight Attendant Wins Right for Jury Trial in Sexual Assault

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In a case she filed against American Airlines, a long-serving flight attendant gained the right to a jury trial, alleging that her managers tried to cover up allegations she was sexually abused by a celebrity chef hired by AA to prepare a new First and Business Class cuisine.

A Tarrant County judge denied AA’s lawyers’ petition for a summary judgment, which would have allowed the court to dismiss the matter before it was even tried. The matter can now proceed to trial before a jury.

In January 2020, Kimberly Goesling, an experienced flight attendant with over 30-years of experience, filed a lawsuit against her employer and British chef Mark Sergeant.

Sergeant sexually attacked Goesling in a hotel room on a trip to Germany in 2018, according to Goesling, and American Airlines retaliated against her after she made the charges public.

Goesling and a number of other flight attendants were flown to Germany by American Airlines to work with Sergeant on a new onboard menu for premium guests.

According to the lawsuit, AA provided Sergeant with alcohol during events organized by the airline, which caused him to become “rowdy, boisterous, and obviously intoxicated.”

Goesling is accused of messaging the Michelin-starred chef and inviting her back to his hotel room for more cocktails. Despite the fact that Goesling did not join Sergeant, he allegedly began knocking on her hotel room door in the early hours of the morning.

Sergeant allegedly barged his way into her hotel room after she cracked open the door and sexually assaulted and raped her.

According to the lawsuit, Goesling reported the event to American Airlines but pledges to assist her were never followed through on. The airline then attempted to conceal the allegations and retaliated against Goesling.

According to Goesling’s lawsuit, American Airlines “discouraged her from further reporting the incident” and neglected to pay for the treatment she received after the attack, despite promising to do so.

Before the incident, Goesling was active in many of AA’s special events and gatherings, but her lawyers claim that after she reported the assault to the corporation, they “shut her down and sought to silence her.”

After learning of the claims, American Airlines said it immediately severed connections with Sergeant. A spokeswoman for the airline says of the case in a statement:

“American has an unwavering commitment to its team members and we’re committed to providing a safe and comfortable environment for everyone who works at our airline.”

“Immediately after the incident was reported, we conducted an investigation and severed our business relationship with the accused individual. Because this matter involves ongoing litigation, we aren’t able to comment further at this time, other than to say that Ms. Goesling remains a valued member of our team.”

The matter will now be heard by a jury.

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