SAN FRANCISCO – While working in her capacity as vice president for Research Now in 2016, a global expert in online market research data, Jane Doe (a pseudonym) alleges she was sexually assaulted by Stuart Dinnis, a Virgin America executive.
Doe filed her suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division on April 23, alleging negligent supervision, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other counts. Doe is represented by Lori E. Andrus and Jennie Lee Anderson of Andrus Anderson in San Francisco.
Also named as defendants in the suit are Virgin America Inc., Dinnis’ employer, and Alaska Air Group Inc., the parent company of Virgin.
The complaint stated that “Virgin and Alaska are jointly and severally liable for each other’s negligence, misconduct and wrong doing as alleged herein, in that they operate as a single business enterprise.”
In the fall of 2016, Doe alleged she and her boss traveled to the Mega Loyalty Conference in Toronto, Canada. This is a conference that attracts professionals in the travel and loyalty sector from around the world, including Stuart Dinnis, then director of loyalty at Virgin, the suit states.
On Oct. 25, 2016, plaintiff alleges she and her boss attended the Points.com Partner Appreciation Party along with several other colleagues and partners. As people began dancing, Doe said Dinnis approached her and gave her a “twirl.”
Although he was at the event in the course and scope of his employment with Virgin, the suit states that he was "noticeably drunk." Doe said she left the dance area, but a short time later, Dinnis approached her again. This time, she said he stumbled and spilled red wine on her face and in her hair. He allegedly didn’t seem to notice he had done this, and others helped clean up the spill.
The plaintiff alleges when she arrived at her hotel around 1 a.m., Dinnis had already returned and was waiting for her in the lobby.
The suit states Dinnis joined Doe in an elevator, kissed her "and would not stop." The suit states she was able to exit the elevator and head for her room, but Dinnis followed her, pulling her by her neck.
After refusing is advances several times, Doe alleges Dinnis finally walked away, leaving Doe "shaking and terrified," the suit states.
The plaintiff alleges she left her employment with Research Now after the incident.
The suit states that this was not the first time Dinnis had behaved in such a manner. The suit states, “Despite actual knowledge of Dinnis’ history of witnessed sexual assaults, Virgin did nothing to prevent the foreseeable attack on plaintiff. Dinnis regularly carried out his predatory acts during networking business events and within the course and scope of his employment duties. Virgin could have, and should have done more to supervise, train and discipline Dinnis, and to protect plaintiff.”
The suit also states that “Dinnis’ conduct was willful, and was undertaken in conscious and/or reckless disregard of the safety of others, including plaintiff. He had actual or constructive knowledge that his actions would result in injury and/or serious emotional harm, and the harm inflicted upon plaintiff was a probable result of the peril presented by his actions.”
Nine causes of action were named in the petition. Relief is requested including “all actual, compensatory, liquidated, consequential and general damages, including but not limited to damages for emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, anguish and loss of income.” Reimbursement for costs incurred and reasonable attorney’s fees were also requested.
In addition, a jury trial was requested.