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What would you do if punched by a gate agent?

What would you do if punched by a gate agent?

Old Feb 25, 15, 4:24 pm
  #1  
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What would you do if punched by a gate agent?

Longtime reader, but rarely post. However, this makes me embarrassed to be Platinum on this airline. I can give you all the gory details (case number etc.), but here is the streamlined version.

One year ago, February 2015 my sister (no status) took a trip with her husband and two minor children from ALB to Montana. The return flight was a nightmare of delays requiring a gate check of carry-on bags in MSP. The harried gate agent in MSP tore the existing tickets off my sister’s bag, and then, with a handful of pink slips handed her one, which, we shall see, did not match my sister’s bag.

Upon their much delayed arrival in ALB, my sister did not take the black bag that looked like hers on the jet way because the pink tickets didn’t match. She waited and waited as the plane emptied and the airport grew quiet. She went to the gate agent to ask where the bag was that matched her pink tab. Gate agent laughed, said the bag wasn’t Delta’s problem, told my sister there was no supervisor to talk to, refused to give her name and attempted to close the jet way door while there was still one black bag at the end near the plane (the one with the ticket that did not match my sister’s). My sister pleaded with her to see if the black bag was hers, but the gate agent, still laughing refused and then grabbed my sister’s claim ticket. Instead of going down the jet way the agent then turned shoved and punched my sister leaving a bruise on her breast (call it assault or sexual assault, your choice). My sister’s minor children were in tears; her husband was off getting the checked luggage. She left to join her husband, bruised, now without her ticket stub and without the gate agent’s name. My sister was in lost baggage when eventually the same black bag showed up in lost luggage. Adding this to the delayed flight made for a very-delayed night. This would be the end of a terrible customer service experience except…..

Knowing she was in the wrong the gate agent preemptively filed an assault charge saying my sister had attacked her. All witnesses concurred that my sister was the one who was struck. My sister filed the appropriate police report giving her side, but said rather than pressing charges she just wanted this solved through Delta. She called customer service and, Delta, upon hearing the story gave her an apology and gift certificate. This would be the end of a terrible customer services experience except…..

The gate agent did not drop her complaint, maybe because she was dealing with personnel repercussions, and it wound its way through the court system requiring my sister to hire a lawyer, take time off from her medical practice to go to court only to have the entire charge thrown out as specious and without merit.

My sister then wrote to Delta, including copies of all legal action, lawyer fees etc. on June 20, 2014. All she has asked for is reimbursement for her out of pocket expenses ($717) and lost medical practice time ($900) that were incurred because of a wayward Delta employee. In a most gracious move she also said she would accept Delta credit in this amount. I think everyone on this board would agree this is not asking for much, given that many here want miles or otherwise for poor meals, broken seats etc. Here is a passenger who is assaulted and hauled into court for trumped up charges by a Delta employee.

The letter requesting compensation (including all documentation, bills, court papers, etc.) was sent by registered mail to Richard Anderson and to Customer Service. Had Delta responded this would be the end of a terrible customer service experience except….

All Delta has done is to write to my sister saying they can do nothing while things are tied up in court (all documentation was initially sent to Delta AFTER all charges were dismissed), then saying “we are investigating this matter further and will be corresponding after additional review” (July 20, 2014), then saying sorry we can’t talk about things while they are still in court (January 13, 2015) – once again the materials were only sent AFTER all charges were dismissed - now saying “after discussing with our Legal department, I can only confirm with you that they are aware of the incident internally and have addressed the issue appropriately with the employee.”

Never once in this entire saga has anyone asked about this dreadful employee and her career with Delta. NEVER ONCE, although one does have to wonder.

The issue is reimbursement for expenses brought about by an imbalanced and aggressive Delta employee. It has now been one full calendar year.

What would you do next? Who should she reach out to? Why should Delta's awful employee cost her so much money? Should I encourage her to turn to small claims court? It seems like even more hassle for her when she didn't do anything wrong at the outset (except maybe just taking the bag that didn't match her tag, which I am sure most of us would have just done).
Arch103 is offline  
Old Feb 25, 15, 4:30 pm
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If all other avenues have been exhausted, you might want to consider contacting the media.

I hope this situation is resolved favorably...
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Old Feb 25, 15, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Canarsie View Post
If all other avenues have been exhausted, you might want to consider contacting the media.

I hope this situation is resolved favorably...
+1

This is unacceptable. You would think Delta would have handled this immediately to avoid any type of bad PR situations, which may now come if the OP reaches out to local media.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 4:42 pm
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Filing in small claims would certainly force Delta to respond.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 4:55 pm
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Originally Posted by BHArt View Post
Filing in small claims would certainly force Delta to respond.
I don't think you recover lost wages in small claims court (or at least not on Judge Judy.)

I'm not a huge fan of Chris Elliott in many cases, but I think this one is right up his alley. He really likes a case where the complainant has good documentation.

http://www.elliott.org/

David
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Old Feb 25, 15, 5:06 pm
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Originally Posted by BHArt View Post
Filing in small claims would certainly force Delta to respond.
Filing in Small Claims court would be the next step.
The concerned business ie Delta would have to respond and pay for all expenses involved in this process, besides the requested payments as detailed above in the OP.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 5:41 pm
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File a small claims suit against Delta.

You will need to research jurisdiction as each state is different.

The max amount should be around $5000-$10,000.

Delta will send a "representative" to the hearing. You will argue your case in front of a judge and more than likely, will be awarded a judgement against Delta.

Go for the max!! PM me if you need guidance.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 5:44 pm
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It sounds that your only legal recourse is small claims court, as has already been noted. At the very least, they would have to answer the complaint.

But in the court of public opinion, that's where you've got a bigger case. With the documented information you have provided, I would think there would be considerable interest from all types of media. Good luck.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 5:48 pm
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It's Time

Eventually, you have to say enough of this. A reasonable settlement was offered, and not acted upon. Tomorrow morning I would contact the best plaintiff's attorney in your area. Pay them 50% of the settlement. At this stage who cares.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 5:56 pm
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Originally Posted by dd1612 View Post
Filing in Small Claims court would be the next step.
The concerned business ie Delta would have to respond and pay for all expenses involved in this process, besides the requested payments as detailed above in the OP.
Upon further thought, I don't think OP's sister can file a suit against Delta in this matter. Delta provided compensation for the original incident with the Delta employee. That was considered settled as best as I can read the original story.

The employee then pressed charges against the sister. That's the employee's right, and I would not imagine that Delta could stop the employee from pressing charges.

The beef is with the GA for pressing charges without merit. Perhaps the sister can sue the GA in small claims court for that.

You can sue a company for an employee's actions while in the employ of the company. I'm not sure you can sue the company for the employee demanding her day in court.

David
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Old Feb 25, 15, 6:05 pm
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You need a real lawyer to advise you, not a bunch of people on the Internet.

Personal advice, put this behind you and move on.

PM me if I can help you find a good lawyer in ALB, I have an office there and decent legal connections.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 6:12 pm
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Hmm, that's an interesting perspective. The "Sheriff's Office Accusatory Instrument" that was filed says

"the complainant, XXX (name) of YYY (address) as the complainant employed by Delta Airlines, Albany International Airport, Albany NY accuses..."

I agree that the employee XXX was the one that caused the trouble, not Delta per se. However, XXX engaged in this customer service disaster/assault from her position as a Delta employee. She is listed on the Accusatory Instrument by her employee position, not just as a run-of-the-mill citizen. She was in uniform.

I am a professor, not a lawyer. Maybe the law is such that Delta, as an employer, is not responsible for the actions of their employee. But if the employee is at work, in uniform, on the job and is listed in official documents in her work relationship, it seems odd to me that Delta is not responsible at all.
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Old Feb 25, 15, 6:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Arch103 View Post
I agree that the employee XXX was the one that caused the trouble, not Delta per se. However, XXX engaged in this customer service disaster/assault from her position as a Delta employee. She is listed on the Accusatory Instrument by her employee position, not just as a run-of-the-mill citizen. She was in uniform.

I am a professor, not a lawyer. Maybe the law is such that Delta, as an employer, is not responsible for the actions of their employee. But if the employee is at work, in uniform, on the job and is listed in official documents in her work relationship, it seems odd to me that Delta is not responsible at all.
Allow me to clarify my comments. Delta is certainly responsible for the employee's actions while on duty, and the damages from those actions. That is crystal clear and doesn't even need an actual lawyer.

I believe you certainly could have filed a claim against Delta for what was basically an assault by one of their employees, for which there were witnesses. I'm not sure if their apology and gift certificate would be considered full settlement of that claim or not.

I am just less certain about Delta's liability for the employee pressing charges that were dismissed. I'm not sure Delta can stop the employee from having her day in court. Nor am I sure about their liability for the additional costs this incurred on your family.

As far as employee discipline, that is always a confidential matter and they are not going to volunteer any of that. But you may get a hint if you never see that particular GA again (and hopefully the GA has found a new career that offers anger management.)

I do think that Delta should offer some consideration for the additional troubles from the incident as a goodwill gesture. I imagine that if that offer is made, it will be accompanied by a request for release from further liability as I expect this is floating around in Legal somewhere on Virginia Avenue.

Originally Posted by LaserSailor View Post
You need a real lawyer to advise you, not a bunch of people on the Internet.

Personal advice, put this behind you and move on.
Good advice, I think I'd agree on both counts.

David
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Old Feb 25, 15, 6:45 pm
  #14  
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I'm surprised that your sister's original lawyer who was defending sister in court didn't countersue the employee and DL, asking for legal and other costs, plus some punitive damages for good measure.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Feb 25, 15 at 8:28 pm Reason: correcting autocorrect
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Old Feb 25, 15, 7:01 pm
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Originally Posted by LaserSailor View Post
You need a real lawyer to advise you, not a bunch of people on the Internet.

Personal advice, put this behind you and move on.
+1

but without a police report or hospital report, I doubt a lawyer would take this case because there isn't much to go on

Bob H
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