independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Lauren's niece faces claims for compensation after air-rage fine

THE niece of fashion mogul Ralph Lauren is facing the prospect of being sued over an air-rage incident in which she abused three crew members.

Jennifer Lauren has already been fined €2,000 after a foul-mouth tirade against air staff led to a flight being diverted.

Ms Lauren, with an address at East 65th Street in New York, abused three Delta Airlines staff, pushing one against a wall and twice saying "ugly blonde bitch" to air hostesses.

The jewellery designer pleaded guilty to two charges of being intoxicated on board the aircraft and breaching the peace. She could now face further legal action, involving paying out compensation, after the flight between Barcelona and New York was diverted to Shannon, her defence solicitor Sharon Curley admitted. The cost of the incident came to €31,801 including €12,697 for discommoding passengers.

She said while much had been made of her client's family name, Ms Lauren is a 41-year-old single woman who had recently set up her own business, which she was the sole employee of. "She doesn't have a large sum of money available to her at this time," she added.

Delta Airlines was unavailable for comment on whether it would be seeking to take any civil action against Ms Lauren.

The incident occurred on Monday after Ms Lauren's seat on the transatlantic flight was unable to recline.

During the incident (see graphic below), she abused three crew members -- Constance Topping, Jennifer Simpson and a second pilot.

The captain on the flight, which was than 300 to 400 miles over the Atlantic, took the decision to divert the plane to Shannon. Upon landing a smell of drink was noticeable from the defendant. The court was told that Ms Lauren did not recall much of the incident. She had drunk three drinks which reacted with her medication.

The court heard that Ms Lauren was "extremely embarrassed and extremely upset" over the incident, and that she suffered from depression, bipolar disorder and generalised anxiety. She had previously suffered from anorexia, winning several awards for her work in helping others battle the condition.

Ms Curley told the court that on arrival in Shannon, Ms Lauren was under the impression that she had landed in Spain and that was the reason she had asked a member of gardai to speak in English.

DEMEANED

Judge Patrick Durcan said the airline staff had been "grossly insulted and demeaned". He described the insults as "nothing short of reprehensible".

When Ms Topping was contacted at her home in the US, she said she did not wish to comment further.

Asked if she was planning to take her own legal action against Ms Lauren, Ms Topping added: "There's nothing I can say. There's nothing I can tell you."

However, in taking the more serious charge into account, Judge Durcan said that in his view the entire incident had been caused by the intoxication.

Judge Durcan fined her €2,000. The maximum sentence on each of the two charges was a €3,000 fine on both charges or four months in prison for engaging in threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour.

Irish Independent

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