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Southwest Airlines B-738 'Secret Lavatory Cameras' Lawsuit

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Southwest Airlines B-738 'Secret Lavatory Cameras' Lawsuit

Old 26th Oct 2019, 16:26
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Southwest Airlines B-738 'Secret Lavatory Cameras' Lawsuit

This appears to be a variation of one of the old lavatory privacy pranks that pilots would play on flight attendants. Years ago on the 727 a gullible stewardess would be called to the cockpit. After some conversation the captain would have the FE 'check' to see if the forward lav was unoccupied so he could go back. The FE would open some panel (was it fuel dump?) on the aft cockpit bulkhead and pretend to look into the lav to verify that it was available. 'Not many people know about this' etc. and the word would quickly spread among the cabin crew.

In this iPad version of the lav prank one of the pilots records a clip of himself/herself in the lav and later plays it when they go back for the flight attendant in the cockpit to see.

Southwest pilots accused by flight attendant of streaming plane bathroom video to cockpit


October 26, 2019 / 8:44 AM / CBS News

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant alleges in a lawsuit that two pilots streamed airplane bathroom video to the cockpit in February 2017.
CBS affiliate KPHO-TV reports that Renee Steinaker said she was working on a flight from Phoenix to Pittsburgh when she went into the cockpit and noticed an iPad mounted to the windshield, live streaming from one of the plane's lavatories.



KPHO-TV reports that according to the lawsuit, about two and a half hours into the flight, the pilot, Terry Graham, asked Steinaker to sit in the cockpit while he used the restroom since protocol states that two people must be in the cockpit at all times. Once inside, Steinaker noticed the iPad that she said was live streaming video from the lavatory, where Graham now was.

In her lawsuit, she says the co-pilot, Ryan Russell, told her "there was a camera in the lavatory and that it was hidden so no one would ever find it." He also allegedly told her not to tell anyone because it was on the "downlow (sic)."

Russell allegedly said "the cameras were new and they were on all of Southwest Airlines 737-800" planes but Steinaker didn't believe him.

Steinaker said she took a photo of the iPad and then reported the incident to Southwest Airlines. However, according to court documents, Graham and Russell were never disciplined.

According to KPHO, court papers indicate that Steinaker and other flight attendants were told to keep quiet about what they saw.
Steinaker was allegedly warned, "if this got out, if this went public, no one, I mean no one, would ever fly our airline again."


https://www.cbsnews.com/news/southwest-airlines-pilots-accused-by-flight-attendant-of-streaming-plane-bathroom-video-to-cockpit/

Of course, there really are some folks who put cameras in the lav and get caught:

Passenger who installed perv-cam in airplane bathroom pleads guilty



By Nelson Oliveira
New York Daily News |
Aug 27, 2019 | 4:50 PM
A twisted passenger who placed a hidden camera inside the first-class lavatory of a United Airlines flight from California to Texas pleaded guilty this week and could be deported, authorities said.

Choon Ping Lee, a Malaysian national, was ordered to pay a $6,000 fine and will spend two months behind bars on video voyeurism charges.

Federal prosecutors said a fellow passenger found the device during the May 5 flight from San Diego to Houston. She saw “a strange object with a blue blinking light” hanging by the door and then warned flight attendants, who confirmed it was a camera, according to a news release.

Authorities investigated and noticed Lee’s clothing in the recorded footage as he was installing the device. Airport surveillance videos confirmed the outfit matched what he was wearing that day.



https://www.nydailynews.com/news/cri...outputType=amp
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 16:42
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Originally Posted by Airbubba View Post
This appears to be a variation of one of the old lavatory privacy pranks that pilots would play on flight attendants. Years ago on the 727 a gullible stewardess would be called to the cockpit. After some conversation the captain would have the FE 'check' to see if the forward lav was unoccupied so he could go back. The FE would open some panel (was it fuel dump?) on the aft cockpit bulkhead and pretend to look into the lav to verify that it was available. 'Not many people know about this' etc. and the word would quickly spread among the cabin crew.
Yes it was (grey/red) panel.


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Old 26th Oct 2019, 19:03
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Originally Posted by gearlever View Post
Yes it was (grey/red) panel.


Isn't the galley behind that bulkhead?
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 19:15
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So the captain has the video going on his ipad, and forgets that it’s playing, as he calls the FA to the cockpit so he can himself go use the lav? And the first officer, doesn’t notice it until the flight attendant points it out?

Is that the story we’re expected to believe? I hope they sue her for defamation of character.
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 19:26
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Originally Posted by The Range View Post
Isn't the galley behind that bulkhead?
I believe it is a lav on most passenger B-727-100's and -200's.
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 22:01
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Gullible stewardesses... er cabin crew still exist!
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 22:19
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Originally Posted by oceancrosser View Post
Gullible stewardesses... er cabin crew still exist!
Maybe. This case is in initial discovery in US District Court and the plaintiffs are represented by a major national personal injury law firm. It's more likely than not that the lawyers are handling it on a contingency basis (unless the two FAs have more money than most do) and firms like this one don't take risks like suing SWA without carefully evaluating a case. Furthermore, they know how risky it can be for attorneys to attempt to prosecute frivolous cases, especially when they get moved to federal courts.

I wouldn't assume that there's no basis for this lawsuit.
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 22:57
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Originally Posted by Airbubba View Post





I believe it is a lav on most passenger B-727-100's and -200's.
Yep, we had over 40 or so and the fwd lav was behind the coc bulkhead.
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 00:36
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Authorities investigated and noticed Lee’s clothing in the recorded footage as he was installing the device. Airport surveillance videos confirmed the outfit matched what he was wearing that day.
D'oh!!!!!!! (extra !!! added to make up the 10 character limit...)
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 02:14
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Originally Posted by OldnGrounded View Post
Maybe. This case is in initial discovery in US District Court and the plaintiffs are represented by a major national personal injury law firm.
These lawyers claim to make a living suing airlines it seems.

From their website:

About Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman

In practice for more than 40 years, the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman has obtained more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients across all areas of practice.

The firm’s aviation attorneys have litigated over 700 cases involving accidents and incidents against some of the largest airlines in the world, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Aero Mexico, Asiana Airlines, British European Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Continental, Delta Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, EgyptAir, Germanwings, JetBlue, Korean Air, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SAS-Scandinavian Airline Systems, Southwest Airlines, SwissAir, TACA Airlines, TWA, United Airlines, and US Airways, among others.



A narrative of the lav cam episode from the attorneys' website:

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant: Pilots Hid Secret Camera in Plane’s Restroom

On Feb. 27, 2017, Renee Steinaker was one of four flight attendants working aboard SWA Flight 1088, a non-stop flight from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Phoenix, Arizona. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800 commercial airliner, was equipped with both forward and aft lavatories for use by the passengers and crew.

According to the complaint, roughly two and a half hours into the flight, Captain Terry Graham asked for a flight attendant to come into the cockpit so that he could use the restroom. Southwest Airlines protocol required that there be two crew members in the cockpit at all times. For this reason, if a pilot expressed a need to leave the cockpit for any reason, a flight attendant would be obligated to report to the cockpit and remain there until that pilot returned. Ms. Steinaker responded to the Captain Graham’s request by reporting to the front of the aircraft and entering the cockpit after he exited. Upon entering the cockpit, Steinaker observed an iPad mounted to the windshield left of the flight captain’s seat. On the iPad screen, she saw what appeared to her to be a live streaming video of Graham in the forward lavatory. At that point, First Officer Russell was in command of the aircraft due to the Captain’s absence from the cockpit.

Steinaker alleges she asked first officer Ryan Russell whether the iPad was streaming video from a camera in the forward lavatory. According to the allegations, with a panicked look on his face, Russell admitted that it was live streaming.

The lawsuit states that Steinaker had used the forward lavatory during the flight, as had other passengers, including young children.

In confessing that the live stream camera was functioning, Russell tried to convince Steinaker that cameras were a top-secret security measure that had been installed in the lavatories of all Southwest Airlines’ 737-800 planes, the lawsuit alleges; at the same time Russell then “ordered” that Steinaker not say a word to anyone about the cameras or the recording she had seen, because she was not supposed to know about this new security measure. He also indicated that the camera was hidden in the lavatory so that no one would ever find it, the lawsuit states.

Steinaker advised Russell that she wanted to document her observations to report the issue because she believed she had witnessed criminal or unlawful conduct. She pulled out her mobile phone and took a picture of the iPad which, at the time, displayed Graham in the restroom.

According to the complaint, when Graham came back into the cockpit from the lavatory, Russell left the cockpit and went to the same lavatory that Graham had used. While Steinaker was alone in the cockpit with Graham, she confronted him about the cameras, though he refused to respond to any of her questions. Grahamthen allegedly blocked Steinaker’s view of the iPad by positioning his arm and shoulder in a manner that obstructed her line of sight.

After she left the cockpit, Steinaker shared her observations with the other flight attendants and showed them the picture she had taken in the cockpit.

When the plane arrived in Phoenix, Graham and Russell immediately disembarked, leaving the plane unattended by piloting staff. According to the lawsuit, this was both unusual and a violation of Southwest Airlines protocol.



https://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/10-19...mera-lavatory/

It will be interesting to see how Southwest and the unions handle this case. Will Southwest fire the pilots based on the accusations?

Remember the Alaska Air captain who was fired after an F/O filed a lawsuit claiming she was raped by him? Her subsequent behavior and anecdotal employment history raised serious questions about her credibility in my view.
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 04:11
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Even if this is a prank, it's foolish. We now have pilots focused on executing this prank, we have a breakdown in communication and trust between cabin crew and flight-deck. You have cabin-crew focused on this "hidden camera" and possibly losing focus on cabin safety.

All of these factors could (and likely will) come to nothing...but it seems like these pilots just put a bunch of unnecessary holes into the Swiss cheese...
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 13:55
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Originally Posted by Airbubba View Post

These lawyers claim to make a living suing airlines it seems.


The claim is very likely true. That Martindale Hubbel "AV Preeminent" rating is pretty good evidence that other lawyers think they're very successful. That usually means profitable.


It will be interesting to see how Southwest and the unions handle this case. Will Southwest fire the pilots based on the accusations?
Not so far, at least. That's one of the reasons the airline is a named defendant in the suit.

Remember the Alaska Air captain who was fired after an F/O filed a lawsuit claiming she was raped by him? Her subsequent behavior and anecdotal employment history raised serious questions about her credibility in my view.
I remember. Last I heard, the accused captain was countersuing the airline and the accusing FO. It's probably all still in litigation.

I have no idea what really happened with the alleged lav-cam episode. I just doubt that it's entirely a lie or fantasy on the FA's part, because it probably wouldn't have gotten as far as it has if there were no evidence beyond her accusation. Remember, the complaint says she showed a photo of the iPad image of the captain in the lav to coworkers, contemporaneously.

We shall see . . .
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 14:27
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Southwest issued another statement on Saturday that seems to confirm the airline's position that the incident was the result of a flight crew prank.

Court filings by attorneys for Dallas-based Southwest and the two pilots denied the livestreaming allegations, and Southwest on Saturday issued statements saying it will vigorously contest the suit and denying it places cameras in aircraft lavatories.
"When the incident happened two years ago, we investigated the allegations and addressed the situation with the crew involved," the company's second statement said. "We can confirm from our investigation that there was never a camera in the lavatory; the incident was an inappropriate attempt at humor which the company did not condone."

The suit against Southwest, a company known for its joking and irreverent behavior by flight crews, and the two pilots was announced Saturday by attorneys for Steinaker and her husband, also a Southwest flight attendant.


https://www.chron.com/news/texas/art...m-14564968.php
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 15:15
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Originally Posted by Airbubba View Post
Southwest issued another statement on Saturday that seems to confirm the airline's position that the incident was the result of a flight crew prank.
Yup. If that turns out to be correct, the lawyers at Baum Hedland will have wasted a lot of time, energy and money. They have a pair of senior partners on the case.
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 22:35
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Originally Posted by OldnGrounded View Post
Yup. If that turns out to be correct, the lawyers at Baum Hedland will have wasted a lot of time, energy and money. They have a pair of senior partners on the case.
They're probably aware that it was a prank, but are going after the emotional distress angle / workplace harassment angle.
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 23:26
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Some people don't have a sense of humor.
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Old 27th Oct 2019, 23:30
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Originally Posted by compressor stall View Post
They're probably aware that it was a prank, but are going after the emotional distress angle / workplace harassment angle.
It appears that Ms. Steinaker claims in the lawsuit that she was physically injured and emotionally distressed by the incident. And, the only suitable remedies will be punishing the pilots and giving her and her husband a big pot of money.

From the lawyers' site linked above:

In the days following the incident, Ms. Steinaker became physically ill at the recognition that Graham and Russell had watched and possibly recorded her, fellow crew members, and passengers disrobing and using the toilet. She was unable to work for several days, sought counseling, and continues to have physical, emotional, and mental injuries as a result of the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that Southwest Airlines was negligent in hiring, retaining, and supervising Graham and Russell. Despite actual or constructive knowledge of the pilots’ aberrant propensities and actions, the lawsuit maintains that Southwest Airlines breached its duty of care to its employees by failing to take reasonable actions to protect Ms. Steinaker from Graham and/or Russell’s unlawful conduct on Flight 1088 and any subsequent flights on which she may be ordered to work with either of them.

Furthermore, Steinaker contends that, by permitting Graham and Russell to continue flying passengers and crew members without supervision or punishment, knowing that Renee Steinaker is not to discuss the incident with “anyone,” and by failing to inspect the aircraft that Graham and Russell fly to ensure that cameras are not installed in lavatories, Southwest allegedly inflicted and continues to inflict serious physical injury and emotional distress upon her.
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 04:19
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Originally Posted by Raffles S.A. View Post
Some people don't have a sense of humor.
Some people don't understand you can't pull these kinds of workplace shenanigans anymore.
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 04:50
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Originally Posted by KRviator View Post
Some people don't understand you can't pull these kinds of workplace shenanigans anymore.
A great many people don't understand that. I imagine those SWA pilots are figuring it out. If it was a prank, it is turning out to be a very expensive prank, in more ways than one. And I'm sure the company isn't particularly enchanted with their behavior.
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Old 28th Oct 2019, 08:54
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Having a fair amount of experience with lawyers, they don't waste their own money, and as is most likely this turns out as a prank it has no bearing on the fact that the plaintiffs are looking for damages for mental anguish etc. Pretty sure that the lawyers and protagonists will come our with a bunch load of notes.
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