Jurors in a civil lawsuit decided Wednesday that American Airlines did not bear responsibility for an alleged sexual assault against a flight attendant by a celebrity chef who was hired by the airline as an independent contractor.
The jury in state court in Fort Worth deliberated for parts of three days before concluding that a sexual assault occurred during a company trip to Germany in 2018, but that American was not involved.
The chef, Mark Sargeant, has never been charged with a crime. He reached a confidential settlement with the flight attendant, Kimberly Goesling, according to Robert Miller, one of her lawyers.
The Associated Press does not typically name victims of sexual assault but is doing so in this case because Goesling has spoken openly to the news media about her case and issues of sexual harassment at American.
Goesling, who later retired after 30 years with Fort Worth, Texas-based American, sought $25.6 million in damages from the airline during the trial, which lasted more than two weeks.
American Airlines spokeswoman Lindsey Martin said, “The jury’s decision confirms that American does not tolerate inappropriate sexual conduct of any kind.”
Miller said he will appeal the verdict. He said the judge excluded evidence about unwanted advances by Sargeant toward other female American Airlines employees before the alleged assault against Goesling.
Sargeant did not appear at the trial, although jurors saw a video deposition. Last year he told a news organization in the United Kingdom that while intoxicated he went to Goesling’s hotel room in the mistaken belief that she was interested in him, but he denied sexually assaulting her.