A Saudi family sued Air France, claiming that stewards assaulted and battered them, gave their seats away and booted them off a flight, courthousenews reported on Tuesday.
The Alshaikh family sued Air France, chief steward Rudolph van der Schraaf, and several Doe employees in Superior Court.
The family claims that Air France singled them out for their “religion, Muslim, and their national origin, Saudi. However they do not allege discrimination or civil rights violations – only assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The family had boarded an Air France flight at Los Angeles International Airport in June 2011, bound for Paris and Riyadh. Their troubles began when lead plaintiff Sarah Fadhliah found someone else in a seat assigned to her son, Sultan Alshaikh, the report said.
“While the Air France flight crew was attempting to resolve the seating issue, the chief steward, Rudolph van der Schraaf, became very agitated and demanded in a raised voice that the family move to other seats to accommodate a French family that wanted to sit together,” the complaint states.
When Fadhliah asked van der Schraaf to confirm the seats on their boarding passes, she claims, he grabbed her arm to move her to another part of the plane.
“The chief steward also demanded that Ms. Fadhliah’s two-year old son Abdullah, who was seated with his seat belt fastened, be moved to another seat. When the family did not immediately move the child, chief steward van der Schraaf unbuckled the child’s seat belt and attempted to pick him up and move him,” the complaint states.
The family claims the captain then “stormed out of the cockpit and shouted at several members of the family to ‘Shut up and sit down!’. With nowhere for Fadhliah to sit, the family says, plaintiff Alshaikh Aljoharah stood up to help her mother.
“The captain immediately pointed at her and shouted ‘You, go back to your seat.’ The captain approached Aljoharah and stood very close to her, continuing to shout at her, causing her to become afraid that he was going to hit her,” the complaint states.
The family says the captain, chief steward and another Air France employee then surrounded Aljoharah, making her cry.
“Thereafter, the chief steward grabbed Aljoharah by the arm and pulled her from her seat.
“The Air France crew called security personnel, who came aboard the aircraft and forced all six members of the Alshaikh family to leave the plane. The captain followed the family and security through the jetway and into the terminal, clapping his hands to hurry them, repeatedly referring to them as ‘You people,’ and calling for the police,” the complaint states.
The family seeks punitive damages. They are represented by Christopher Kondon with K&L Gates. Air France could not immediately be reached for comment before business hours on Tuesday.