A deaf woman who sued Texas International Airlines after she was prevented from boarding a plane with her hearing dog two years ago was awarded $25,000 yesterday by a Baltimore U.S. District Court jury.
Suzanne Behrens, 24, of Arlington, who filed a $250,000 suit against the Houston-based airlines a year ago, testified that the incident caused her to miss her flight back to college in Connecticut with her dog, Happy. Behrens said that the airline and its employe at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport acted illegally when she and her dog were refused a seat on the flight on Nov. 30, 1980.
John Tigert, attorney for Texas International, conceded in the trial that the airline erred in preventing Behrens from boarding the plane. The ticket agent, working on what Tigert said was the busiest day of the year for airlines, was not familiar with Maryland laws for guide dogs and offered to ship Behrens' dog in a box in the luggage compartment.
Behrens' attorney, Daniel Schultz, argued that the airline employe refused to look up the company's policies regarding the handicapped and demonstrated "outrageous conduct" in the incident.
A spokesman for Texas International said last night the airline has not yet decided whether it will appeal