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American Airlines drops law firm that said a 9-year-old girl should have seen camera on toilet seat

The Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines has replaced the law firm that told a judge a 9-year-old girl was negligent in not noticing there was a camera phone taped to the seat in an airplane lavatory.

An airline spokesperson confirmed Friday that the Wilson Elser law firm is no longer defending American in a lawsuit filed by the girl's family.

American retained Kelly Hart & Hallman, a Fort Worth-based firm that has done extensive work for American in other matters.

The change in lawyers came after Wilson Elser said in a court document that any harm to the girl could be blamed on her “fault and negligence" for using the lavatory, "which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device.”

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A former American flight attendant is accused of luring girls to use the lavatory after taping his iPhone to the toilet seat and explaining that the seat was broken. Estes Carter Thompson III, who was fired by American, pleaded not guilty this week to attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of images of child sexual abuse.

The 9-year-old’s family sued American in state court in Austin, Texas, after the FBI told them that videos of the girl were found on the flight attendant’s phone.

“With the benefit of this new legal representation, we hope that American Airlines will now take a fresh look at the case and finally take some measure of responsibility for what happened to our client,” said Paul Llewellyn, a lawyer for the girl's family.

Llewellyn is also representing the family of a 14-year-old who is suing American in federal court in North Carolina over the same flight attendant's alleged acts.

Wilson Elser did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Associated Press