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Friday, January 23, 2004

Judge won't toss flight abuse lawsuit: "A federal judge refused Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by parents of a Bay City girl who said she was molested on a Northwest Airlines flight in 2001.
'I just can't agree with you,' U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told Northwest Airlines lawyer Daniel Seymour of Detroit, who pushed to drop the suit at a hearing because the airline had no legal obligation to protect the child.
Rosen said the fact that the girl's mother paid a $40 fee under Northwest's special program for unaccompanied children entitled her to the expectation that the airline would ensure 'a safe, comfortable and fun trip' as billed on the airline's Web site.
'The $40 fee has to mean something. It can't be just for processing,' Rosen told Seymour.
The girl, then 11, said she was repeatedly fondled by a man aboard a flight to Detroit on Aug. 4, 2001. The girl said she was too frightened to tell flight attendants what had happened but told her stepfather after she arrived in Detroit. He alerted police, who arrested Ravichandra Thuluva, then 28, as he waited for a connecting flight to Bombay. Thuluva, a computer consultant from India who sat next to the girl on the flight, was charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse.
Thuluva denied assaulting her but said he placed his hand on her thigh for extended periods to calm her during takeoff and when the plane encountered turbulence. A federal jury acquitted Thuluva in February 2002. "

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