The former host of Dance Moms, Abby Lee Miller, has sued American Airlines for an incident in 2019. Here are the myriad reasons why her lawsuit is frivolous.
More than a decade ago a new show debuted about a take-no-prisoners dance studio owner and her talented, competitive dancers with their even more competitive helicopter mothers. The Lifetime reality show, Dance Moms, was anchored by the brash studio owner of Abby Lee Dance Company and now star, Abby Lee Miller. Miller is the daughter of local dance legend, Maryen Lorrain who started her own studios in Pittsburgh with significant success.
The brash owner of the dance studio, Abby Lee Miller, has had a tough time since the show began. In 2010, owing $400,000 in back taxes on her Penn Hills studio in North Pittsburgh, PA. She filed bankruptcy but as the show continued onward, investigators found evidence that she had lied about her income:
“Both the IRS and FBI investigated Miller and found that she had hidden $775,000of her income from the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, according to the Associated Press. It was also found out that in 2014, Miller had friends divide and smuggle $120,000 that she earned from her Dance Moms Australia masterclass tour into the United States from Australia. This violated the customs and immigration requirements to declare any cash over $10,000.” – Woman’s Day
Miller reached a plea deal on her 20 counts of bankruptcy fraud and sentenced to a year and one day in prison plus penalties of $160,000. She served ten months before an early release in April 2018 when she was diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma; she was transferred to a halfway house for treatment.
Incident in Pittsburgh
In 2019, Miller was on an American Airlines flight back to Pittsburgh. Disabled by her spinal variant of Hodgkin Lymphoma, she was bound to a wheelchair. Miller claims that staff was to wait until the flight emptied, then transfer her to her personal wheelchair on the aircraft rather than the airport’s wheelchair.
“But at the airport, she said airline employees transferred her from the plane seat to an airline wheelchair instead of her own wheelchair. They then moved her to the terminal gate while she waited for them to get her wheelchair from the plane. When it came, they tried to transfer her and dropped her, according to the complaint, within view of a crowd.” – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
She was later moved by the airport’s fire department to her own wheelchair in the gate area. Miller claims she suffered injuries related to the fall and was unable to attend medical therapy for a spinal infection.
Miller’s suit is filed against American Airlines, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), and the Allegheny County Airport Authority. If there was any doubt as to whether or not the suit was frivolous, this is a good indicator. Allegheny Airport Authority manages PIT so suing both is already unnecessary.
Further, American Airlines staff do not operate wheelchair assistance for their customers. They act as a facilitator in summoning the third-party company, but American’s staff do not push the chairs. That third-party operator is not named in the suit, though PIT could bear the responsibility as the contractor of those services.
The incident took place on July 6, 2019. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but this seems like an extraordinarily long time to file suit. It no doubt follows months of settlement discussions without a successful outcome.
While embarrassing, and perhaps even traumatic, it would be difficult to measure the long-term damage caused by this fall. In her condition, I am sure it was painful and may have set back her progress but there’s no further specific injury named in the brief.
If this were an injurious event, specific maladies resulting from the fall would have been named, the lawsuit would have been filed sooner, and would have named the contracting party responsible. However, the contracted third-party wouldn’t be able to draw the attention of a suit against American and PIT nor would it have the backing to award a large sum either in judgement nor in a settlement.
Given the aforementioned legal troubles and financial issues of Abby Lee Miller, and her proclivity to act with impunity in judicial matters, it’s not surprising that she filed suit. It also casts doubt on the veracity of her claims.
Abby Lee Miller will be hard-pressed to find much sympathy despite her unfortunate physical condition. The dance instructor that screamed at crying children to “cry on your pillows at home” and was ruthless with the mothers that paid her wages won’t garner much support from the public at large. The court will treat the suit with some prejudice given her financial motivation and prior concealment of financial information. It will also factor the Customs declaration evasion when she smuggled $120,000 from work in Australia to avoid $10,000 cash declaration requirements. The court may toss the suit out entirely on the basis that she’s not naming the correct defendants. I’m sure her fall was painful and embarrassing but so is this attempted extortion.
What do you think? Was American Airlines, PIT or its governing board responsible for her safe transfer? Should the suit be tossed out or should she be awarded damages?