A Florida woman has taken out a lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming that a flight attendant verbally abused her and locked her emotional support dog in an airplane bathroom for an hour during a flight from Miami to Los Angeles in April, as reported by ABC News.
Avigail Diveroli filed a lawsuit in Miami last week, seeking damages in excess of $75,000 and a jury trial.
According to documents obtained by ABC News, Diveroli — who suffers from extreme anxiety and was pregnant at the time — was traveling with her husband, her 87-year-old grandfather, and her “medically necessary comfort animal” dog Simba when the alleged incident took place.
She says in the lawsuit that she had been assured, in phone calls prior to her flight, that the dog would be able to fly with her in business class, and that all was fine during the boarding process.
But with an hour to go before landing, a flight attendant (identified in papers as Regina) noticed the pooch and allegedly told Diveroli having the animal there was against Federal Aviation Administration rules. The kennel with the dog inside was grabbed by Regina, Diveroli claimed, and locked in the bathroom for the remainder of the flight.
Regina also allegedly told Diveroli that she would be “cuffed” once the plane landed, and “forcefully downgraded” the woman from business class to another seat mid-flight. Police did escorted Diveroli off the flight upon landing, but the lawsuit states they did not charge her with any crime.
In a statement through a rep to PEOPLE, American Airlines fought back against Diveroli’s claims.
“Our professional crews are there to ensure the safety and comfort of all customers,” they said. “In this case, the customer’s dog was traveling as a pet rather than an emotional support animal or service animal. FAA regulations require pets to stay in kennels that fit under the seat, however, this kennel didn’t fit under the seat. The flight crew tried to handle the situation in accordance with FAA regulations.”
“Also, this travel was booked on a 777, which doesn’t allow pets in the premium cabin,” the airline argued. “Our team at the airport in Miami offered to rebook the passenger on a later flight, but they declined, and opted to take a seat with the pet in the main cabin.”
Diveroli’s attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“This is a terrible case where AA completely ignored the mental anguish of a passenger, ignored their own carrier agreement with passengers, and violated every standard of decency,” the suit said, according to ABC News. “Regina [the flight attendant] yelled at Plaintiff and her husband the whole trip, even stating so much that the dog is not allowed to be wrapped with an AA blanket.”