NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A Norfolk couple has filed a lawsuit against a major airline after a sex toy was allegedly taped to their luggage.
Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger of Norfolk filed the lawsuit in Harris County, Texas against United Continental regarding an incident in May.
The lawsuit alleges on May 21, 2011, Bridgeman and Borger were returning to Norfolk from Costa Rica when they had a layover in Houston. In Houston, the pair grabbed their bags and rechecked them prior to boarding their flight to Norfolk.
Warning: The second photograph attached to this story is of the item. We have blurred most of it out.
When they arrived at ORF, the couple was shocked to discover a sex toy had been removed from one of their bags, covered with a "greasy foul-smelling substance" and taped to the bag, according to the lawsuit.
"I knew exactly what it was when I saw it," Borger told NBC News. "I was absolutely and utterly shocked and embarrassed and humiliated and I didn't even know what to do at the time."
The lawsuit claims onlookers laughed, causing the pair emotional trauma, even "necessitating treatment from mental health care professionals."
The lawsuit claims the employee(s) responsible knew that the bag belonged to a man due to a name tag and the male clothing inside of the bag. The lawsuit goes on to say "there is a high likelihood that these acts were directed towards [the men] because they are homosexuals and because they are males."
The NBC News report said Bridgeman thought an airline employee found the toy, saw it belonged to a man and decided to humiliate them.
"I absolutely, fervently believe that this was intentional," Bridgeman told NBC News.
The couple told NBC News they reported the incident to United Continental, but did not like the response. An airline employee said the airline offered the men a "gesture of goodwill," which was declined.
Christen David, Senior Manager of Media Relations with United Continental released the following statement:
"United does not tolerate discrimination of any kind. After conducting a thorough investigation, we determined that there is no support for this allegation. Nonetheless, we offered these valued customers a gesture of goodwill which they declined. We will vigorously defend ourselves and our employees."
Faubus and Scarborough LLP of Houston would not disclose now much money the couple was seeking with the lawsuit, but released the following statement:
We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of our clients, Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger, to redress the harm they have suffered as a result of United Continental's callous disregard for their most basic rights. We believe that every person – no matter be treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, in this instance, United Continental clearly did not share that belief and instead chose to humiliate Christopher and Martin by crudely exposing a very personal and private item. United Continental's conduct was reprehensible and should be shocking to all. With this lawsuit, our clients hope to effect change at an airline, and to an industry, that has clearly lost sight of the importance of personal privacy, human dignity, and respect.
Stay with WAVY.com for more on this developing story.
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