A Colorado woman has filed a lawsuit against United Airlines for failing to protect her from a boozed-up commercial pilot who allegedly groped her during a flight. According to court documents filed last week in Colorado District Court, the incident took place in July 2016 on a United flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco.

Anne Dowling claimed the man, identified as Monte Wedl, told a flight attendant he was “horny” before inappropriately touching her. Dowling was sitting next to Wedl, a FedEx captain who was served “at least three to four vodka sodas” which he drank along with the prescription sleep drug Ambien.

Wedl placed his “hand on the back of her leg near her buttock,” according to the lawsuit. Dowling “removed his hand and fell back asleep,” before waking up again to Wedl “rubbing her thigh, grabbing her butt, and attempting to reach into her pants.” She again realized she was being violated, as Wedl “forced his hand between Dowling’s body and her own hand. He then firmly began rubbing her vagina through her clothes,” the suit states, adding that Wedl “was rapidly masturbating underneath his blanket.”

Dowling asked him to stop and then reported the incident to a flight attendant, asking for a change of seat. However, a United crew member told her there were no open seats and suggested she talk to the man instead.

According to the lawsuit, Dowling informed the purser of the incident, who said the man’s actions were “not OK, but I’m not shocked.” The purser finally moved her to another seat in the same row.

After landing, Dowling reported the incident to United Airlines, San Francisco police and the FBI. In December 2016, a criminal complaint was filed against Wedl in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, but he was acquitted of all charges in June 2017.

Dowling is now seeking $75,000 in damages from both the airline and Wedl, claiming she suffers from PTSD, and other psychological conditions because of the July 2016 incident.

"Wedl has not flown for the company since we were first made aware of these allegations. He is no longer an employee,” a representative for FedEx said in an email to International Business Times.

united airlines A United Airlines Boeing 737-900ER plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, March 28, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake

United has been hit with a number of other lawsuits in recent years, including one by a man who had been dragged off a plane in Chicago. In April 2017, David Dao, a Kentucky doctor, was injured when he was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight because he refused to give up his seat. 

In another recent incident that resulted in a lawsuit, a New York family sued the airline after its French bulldog died from suffocation aboard a flight after a flight attendant forced it into an overhead bin.

Meanwhile, there have been several incidents in which a male passenger was accused of molesting a woman during a flight. Last year, a female passenger on a United flight accused her co-passenger of sexually assaulting her during a flight from New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina. In this case, as well, the man allegedly placed his hands between her legs and groped her.

In July 2017, a 28-year-old doctor was charged with engaging in sexual conduct with a minor after allegedly groping the teenager while she slept aboard a United Airlines flight.