Add one more item to the growing list of reasons to distrust airplane lavatories: They can land you in embarrassing lawsuits.
Just ask Virgin America passenger Salvatore Bevivino, who filed suit against the airline last week after a flight he took in 2012 ended with police officers and allegations he’d failed to flush.
According to a copy of the suit obtained by The Smoking Gun, Bevivino’s flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco last April got off to a rocky start when he refused to place his drink order through the seat-back touch screen in front of him, preferring instead to ask the attendants directly. After repeated in-person requests, the 52-year-old got his soda.
Later, when the flight landed at San Francisco International, Bevivino says he was pulled aside by the captain as he left the plane and asked why he’d used obscene language with the attendants. He was also accused of leaving the toilet in the airplane lavatory unflushed and was questioned by police, FBI and other officials.
Per a police report published by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bevivino used the lavatory after he had difficulties ordering the drink and “came back out with a smile on his face and began using profanities.” An unnamed party then “passed by the restroom and saw that Bevivino left the door open and did not flush the toilet.”
According to Bevivino, however, he settled in after receiving his drink and had few further interactions with the attendants for the rest of the flight, though he did use the touchscreen to order a meal.
As a result of the incident, Bevivino has opted to sue the airline for racial discrimination, defamation, false imprisonment and six other charges. According to Courthouse News, he’s seeking $500,000 in damages, costs and punitive damages.
A portion of Bevivino’s suit states that he is of Italian descent and that he believes his “dark complexion” could mistakenly lead to associating him with the Middle East. Per The Smoking Gun, Bevivino therefore suspects he may have been profiled by crew members.
In an email to The Huffington Post, a Virgin America spokesperson declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.