A gay man testified this week that an airline worker ruined his life by taking a sex toy from his bag and taping it to the outside – but a Texas judge dismissed the case for a second time, before closing arguments and jury deliberations.
Christopher Bridgeman and his husband, Martin Borger, sued United Airlines after claiming their bag came out of an airport carousel with a purple dildo sticking out and covered with fecal matter, reported the Houston Chronicle.
The couple had returned to the United States from Costa Rica in May 2011, when they went through customs and rechecked their bags at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston before flying home to Virginia.
When they arrived in Norfolk, the couple “discovered, to their horror, that a private sex toy had been removed from one of their bags, covered in a greasy foul-smelling substance and taped prominently to the top of their bag,” they claimed in an August 2012 lawsuit.
“I truly believed this happened because I am gay,” Bridgeman testified, saying the sex toy had been tucked between folded clothes before it was removed from the bag.
They claimed an employee of Continental Airlines – which has since been absorbed by its parent company, United Airlines – invaded their privacy and intentionally inflicted emotional distress with the prank.
However, the airline’s attorney argued that United did not believe its employees were responsible for exposing the dildo – and even if they were, the corporation should not be held responsible because the action was outside their job duties.
The attorney, Edward “Teddy” Adams, also pointed out that the Transportation Safety Administration could have exposed the sex toy while inspecting the bag.
Bridgeman told jurors he began to question his own sanity after the incident, installed 16 surveillance cameras at his home, and feared his new neighbors were working for the airline to discredit them.
“It’s gotten to the point that we stay on the second floor of our house,” Bridgeman said. “It’s hard to leave the house because the egregious act has consumed us. We no longer feel safe.”
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt issued a summary judgment requested by United Airlines and dismissed the suit, ruling the couple had not proved their case.
Bridgeman said the TSA told him that agents place a notice in all bags they inspect – and his did not contain such a marker.
But he said they filed a lawsuit and contacted the media because they were dissatisfied with the airline’s handling of the matter.
The couple declined to comment afterward, but their attorney said they would appeal the ruling – saying the judge had been reversed before.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the case in 2013, after Hoyt previously dismissed the suit.
Watch this video about the case posted online by The Young Turks: