Flight Attendant Suing Jay Leno For On-Air Jokes About Her Close Relationship With A Pet Rat

(bclinesmith)

This is not the rat in question. It’s just a pet rat. (bclinesmith)

Remember the American Airlines flight attendant who sued her employers over allegations that people claimed she smuggled her pet rat onboard in her underthings? She’s now claiming in a new lawsuit that the host of the Tonight Show, Jay Leno, and NBC defamed her by falsely accusing her of “engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat.” So there’s that.

The flight attendant filed her suit in Nassau County Supreme Court, reports Courthouse News Service, claiming that a joke he made on-air constitutes “sickening, outrageous and disgusting attacks” on her.

He made the quips during his “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” segment discussing the July lawsuit against American Airlines, addressing one co-worker’s claim that she’d been feeding her rat. The flight attendant says she was just eating a roll.

“I don’t know who eats dinner rolls out of a cup,” Leno said on the July 18 show, then inviting three guest comedians to comment. They aren’t included in the suit as defendants but she claims they “systematically criticized, defamed, and humiliated” her.

One panelist allegedly “berated [the flight attendant] for seating the rats ‘in cooch,’ a reference to plaintiff’s genitalia,” according to the lawsuit. Cooch, as in coach, would be the joke here.

Another panelist said the plaintiff liked having “something creepy in her underwear” and suggested that she then “hook up” with him. Because he’s creepy, see?

The worst comments, she says, came from the panelist who suggested that the flight attendant “coulda used what the rest of us ladies use … a Rabbit.” That also happens to be the name of a popular vibrator.

“In a wholly uncalled for and unsubstantial attack on plaintiff’s character, the second panelist accused [the plaintiff] of using the rats for her own sexual gratification and portrayed [her] as a woman engaged in sexual misconduct of the most depraved sort, bestiality,” the lawsuit states.

“Throughout the segment, defendant Jay Leno indulged panelists’ outlandish comments and laughed as his guests attacked [her] character.”

As a result of the millions who viewed the segment, the woman claims in the suit that she and her husband “became pariahs in their own community.”

It’s also messing with their bedroom life, the lawsuit claims, as her husband “now suffers from severe sexual dysfunction and inability to perform sexually” when he thinks about the segment depicting her as “a sexual deviant.”

She’s seeking unspecified damages because she says Leno knew that the story was based on “blatantly false and malicious rumors.”

Woman Takes Aim at Leno’s Bestiality Jokes [Courthouse News Service]

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  1. CzarChasm says:

    This is such a non-starter of a lawsuit. I would say I’m surprised she found a scumbag lawyer willing to try and hope for a settlement, but I know lawyers.

    • PhillyDom says:

      Falsely claiming that someone has engaged in bestiality is pretty damn close to a textbook case of libel per se, defined as

      … publication of a false statement about another which accuses him/her of a crime, immoral acts, inability to perform his/her profession, having a loathsome disease (like syphilis), or dishonesty in business. Such claims are considered so obviously harmful that malice need not be proved to obtain a judgment for “general damages”…

      I think she’s got a case.

      • C0Y0TY says:

        You both need to read up on laws involving parody, commentary, and satire. In that setting, the jokes are clearly not to be taken seriously, or considered to be true. It’s a comedy sketch, not a news report.

        • PhillyDom says:

          It’s not parody – what is it he’s supposed to be parodying? And even if it falls into the categories of commentary or satire, the flight attendant is a private citizen, not a public figure. The libel/slander laws are different for private citizens.

          Saying “it’s just a joke” is not a defense against libel.