Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"That's what you come to civil court for..."


This week a jury was seated in order to hear the personal injury claim of Sharon Brown, a Continental flight attendant who claims she was the victim of an incident of "air rage" at the hands of Victoria O'Steen, wife of Joel Osteen and, with her husband, co-pastor of Lakewood Church, one of the largest churches in the United States.

Ms. Brown claims that she was assaulted by Ms. O'Steen. It seems Ms. O'Steen had asked two other members of the Continental flight crew to clean a spill on her seat before she sat down, to no avail. Ms. Brown claims that Ms. O'Steen then threw her against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast during an angry outburst that ensued. Ms. Brown has brough suit, claiming that she suffers from anxiety and hemorrhoids because of the incident and said her faith was affected. Ms. Brown is seeking a personal apology from Ms. O'Steen, compensatory medical damages for psychological counseling, and punitive damages amounting to ten percent of Ms. O'Steen's total personal net worth. Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch.

I can assure you that I am the last person to go around protecting televangelists, but Ms. Brown is not the first person to have her faith tested as a result of being forced to endure air travel these days. It is next to impossible to board a plane, fly to one's destination and disembark without being the perpetrator or the victim of some kind of assault. Further, after enduring all that it took to put my eleven-year old daughter on a plane last weekend to go see her grandmother, I can truthfully assert that the ground personnel (TSA staff, ticketing agents, gate agents, etc.) are doing absolutely nothing to make the process run more smoothly or make your travels less stressful.

If Ms. Brown is so severly affected by such a seemingly minor incident, she should probably find a different line of work, something less stressful. The last thing I want in the event of an air emergency is a flight attendant who has an anxiety attack and soils herself. In the end, if you believe what Rusty Hardin, the attorney for Ms. O'Steen, has to say about the case, Ms. Brown is probably doing just that, looking for a new line of work - independent wealth manager.

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