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Suit: 'Humiliated' Nigerian family kicked off United flight after white man's complaint

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Posted at 5:03 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-14 13:30:38-04

(RNN) – A Nigerian woman filed a suit against United Airlines last week, saying she was kicked off a flight two years ago because a white man complained about her smell.

In the suit, filed in Houston, Queen Obioma says she was taken off the plane, bound for San Francisco, because the man complained to the pilot that she was “pungent.”

The suit is for “racial discrimination, denial of freedom and equality, negligence and for intentional infliction of emotional distress” according to a copy obtained by the Miami Herald.

Obioma was flying business class, with her two children in economy, in March 2016. They were en route from Lagos, Nigeria, to Canada, where the children attend school.

When she boarded the plane, the man was in her seat, and refused to move. So she sat in the next seat, which was where he was supposed to be sitting.

According to the suit, when she sat down, he got up and went to the cockpit, where he apparently made the complaint about her.

The suit also notes that at one point Obioma went to the restroom, and when she returned the man stood in the aisle to block her from taking her seat again “for several minutes” until she could get past him.

Sometime after that she was told someone needed to speak to her outside the plane, where she was told she would not be allowed to fly.

“The pilot personally requested that Ms. Obioma be ejected from the aircraft because the white man sitting around her in the business class cabin was not comfortable flying with her because she was ‘pungent,’” she was told.

The suit states that, “At that point Ms. Obioma was lost, confused and disoriented. Her mind went blank and she was utterly befuddled.

“Ms. Obioma was being discriminated against because of her race and her nationality.”

Despite explaining that they needed to catch the flight in San Francisco to continue on to Canada, her children were then removed as well.

“Ms. Obioma watched her minor children marched out of the aircraft like criminals, confused and perplexed and she slumped. She sobbed uncontrollably for a long time,” the suit states.

The family was delayed five hours, and missed a number of appointments at the school.

The suit observes that, “The white man passenger first and then the pilot of the aircraft simply observed that Ms. Obioma was Black, African, Nigerian and therefore unequal to share the cabin.”

“Ms. Obioma and her children were embarrassed, humiliated, in shock, and puzzled … Ms. Obioma and her children are pressured to see their race as inferior to that of a white man,” it says.

In a statement to the Houston Chronicle, United only said that, “We have not yet been served with this suit and due to the pending litigation involved in this matter, we’re unable to provide further comment.”

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