Flight attendant denies taking rats on plane
A US flight attendant is suing her former employer after she was accused of smuggling pet rats onto a plane in her knickers.
Louann Giambattista, 55, says the allegations made by three American Airlines colleagues were "absurd" and "patently false", reports the New York Post.
They claimed she took her pet rats on to a passenger plane by hiding them in her underwear and fed them from a bread roll during the trip.
Her accusers included a pilot who helped her out of a van at an airport and claimed he saw a bulge in her pocket and saw "a live pet", according to court papers.
Later, a fellow flight attendant accused her of feeding rats from a bread roll hidden in a paper cup during the flight from St Martin to Miami.
Ms Giambattista, of New York, says the roll was for her - and that she hid it in a cup to avoid looking unprofessional in front of passengers.
Her co-workers reported her to authorities upon landing in Florida and she was searched and questioned for an hour, she alleges.
Though no rats were ever found, Ms Giambattista said she remained blacklisted for more than a year, with federal agents subjecting her to stops and searches every time she passed through customs.
She says the incident left her with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and she is suing American Airlines for damages. The airline says it will respond in court.
Stephen Morelli, Ms Giambattista's lawyer, called the claims preposterous.
"Everybody has pets - she has her pets at home, not at work," he said. "She's not a nut. They're making her out to be a nut."