A Texas woman has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines, claiming she was mistreated on a flight in 2013.
Carmen Maria Montiel, a former beauty queen and news anchor, filed the civil lawsuit last year. She decided to speak out about the allegations after seeing reports of other customers mistreated by the same airline.
“I forever will be traumatized by what happened,” she said.
The incident occurred when Montiel was on a red eye flight from Houston to Bogota, Colombia with her then-husband and daughter.
Montiel says she rested her head on her husband’s shoulder, and at some point, he called a flight attendant saying she was “invading his space.” That’s when Montiel claims he hit her.
The couple was going through a divorce at the time.
“Instead of the flight attendant protecting me from the assault, he joined my assailant,” said Montiel.
She says the United flight attendant told her to move from first class to coach.
“I said, ‘No this is my seat, I’m not leaving.’ Next thing that happens is two men over 300 pounds, I’m 120 pounds, came over and said, ‘You need to come with us’,” the mother explained.
Montiel claims she was handcuffed with zip ties and forced to the back of the plane.
That’s why the recent video showing a doctor dragged off a United flight struck a chord.
“The reason people believe what happened to Dr. Dao is because they saw it on tape. Even with it being on tape, he was accused of being belligerent,” said Montiel.
This Houston mom faced a criminal charge for interfering with a flight attendant after her flight. A jury exonerated her in 2015.
She decided to file a civil lawsuit in 2016 seeking damages for defamation, mental anguish, and malicious criminal charges.
“After all this happened, I’m still struggling. My reputation is ruined. My credibility as a journalist has been ruined,” said Montiel. “I’m not asking for any specific amount in my lawsuit, but what I’m asking is for something that was so wrong to be made right.”
A representative for United Airlines told KHOU 11 they cannot comment on active litigation.
However, in a response filed in court, the company denied all of the plaintiff’s allegations and claims.