Anna Delvey’s Ex-Lawyer Says Spirit Airlines Dispute Put Her in Psych Ward

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Courtesy of Audrey Thomas
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Courtesy of Audrey Thomas

The disbarred defense attorney who represented convicted con artist Anna Delvey in the fake German heiress’ infamous fraud case is suing Spirit Airlines over a confrontation with a gate agent that she says left her so distraught, she had to be committed to a mental institution.

Former lawyer Audrey A. Thomas, a controversial figure who has long made headlines for her courtroom histrionics, claims it all started when the unnamed Spirit employee took offense to being called “lady” instead of “ma’am,” according to a six-figure lawsuit filed April 26 and obtained by The Daily Beast. It says things spiraled out of control from there, with Thomas contending the stress of it all forced her to miss a conference in Colorado Springs, where she believes she would have sold hundreds of her religious-themed self-help books.

“Plaintiff suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to the psych ward at Mount Sinai Hospital for several days and has been placed on anxiety medications and is now in therapy to cope with the stress of this unwarranted attack by Jane Doe,” the lawsuit states. “Therefore Plaintiff believes that spirit should compensate Plaintiff for all of the losses that Plaintiff had.”

“It seems to me that, no matter what I do, I find conflict,” Thomas told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “It’s horrible what they’ve done to me.”

“I have lived in America since I was 10, but I socialize in the Jamaican community,” Thomas said. “When you want to respect someone, you say ‘lady.’ She lost her mind. I’ve been through so much in the last three years, I was not looking for conflict.”

A screenshot of a flyer announcing Audrey Thomas’ speaking engagement in Colorado Springs.

Audrey Thomas says she was forced to miss a speaking engagement because of a vengeful Spirit Airlines gate agent.

Queens County Supreme Court

According to the suit, which Thomas brought herself in Queens County Supreme Court, February 21, 2024, began like any other day. The Queens, New York, resident had been in Atlanta for her daughter’s funeral the previous month, and booked a flight home on Spirit.

Thomas requested wheelchair service at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport due to “a brain injury associated with a stroke I suffered on March 10, 2023,” states an affidavit she filed along with her complaint. She was taken through security with more than a dozen other passengers in wheelchairs, and made it to the gate with about a half-hour to spare, according to Thomas’ affidavit.

“When I got to the gate, I was wheeled to the door to board the plane,” the affidavit goes on. “The person that was standing there was a light skinned black female. She said to me, ‘can you give me your your [sic] boarding pass[‘] and I went in my bag and I handed her my Jamaican Passport, and my boarding pass. She was talking to a colleague so to get her attention I said “Excuse me Lady[,] here is my ID and my boarding pass.’ She took my passport and boarding pass and said ‘don’t call me lady.’ I said to her ‘I’m sorry I apologize[,] are your pronouns, Sir or Mister?’ She said ‘Oh now you wanna be smart you’re gonna pay for that bag under your wheelchair. We take visa [sic], Mastercard, American Express, Discover.’”

Thomas says she pushed back, telling the Spirit employee that she didn’t have “a credit card with money on it,” but had cash. She also challenged the notion of being charged extra for her carry-on, as she hadn’t been asked to pay for the same bag on the flight down, according to the affidavit.

“I then said[,] ‘I am sorry if I offended you[,] I did not mean any disrespect, I am Jamaican by birth[,] American by choice[,] so we say Lady to show respect,’” Thomas’ affidavit continues. “She said[,] ‘well[,] this is America[,] in America we call people ma’am[,] so do not call me lady.’”

A photo of four books authored by Audrey Thomas.

Some of the books Audrey Thomas hoped to sell in Colorado Springs.

Queens County Supreme Court

At a stalemate, Thomas called a friend who used Zelle to send her the $100 fee, the affidavit states. As the gate agent processed the payment, Thomas says she “giggled and whispered to [her friend], “I must be six years old, she just resocialized my fucking speech pattern.”

When the gate agent realized what Thomas had said, the affidavit claims she turned to her and barked, “Oh really, you wanna curse at me now? You are gonna rebook,” closing the door to the aircraft some 26 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart, according to the affidavit.

“Two other passengers, a man in a wheel chair [sic] and a couple with a baby all had to re-book [sic] just because this lady wanted to spite me,” the affidavit states. “I was frantic[,] for I was scheduled to meet some people in New York to travel to Colorado Springs for a No Longer Broken Woman’s [sic] conference. I pleaded with her[,] ‘Ma’am please don’t do this. I meant no disrespect. I have a once in a life time [sic] opportunity in Colorado Springs[,] I am going to miss it. What did I do to you that was so awful to warrant this?’”

Thomas alleges the gate agent then replied, “Oh, now you wanna beg? Keep that same energy you had before,” informing a colleague, “Let them rebook.”

“I then said, ‘I don’t know if you hate Jamaicans or if some Jamaican man hurt you but I am someone new and I am a customer I don’t deserve this,’” Thomas’ affidavit claims. “She said[,] ‘I am happily married, byyyye!’”

According to Thomas, she “ended up missing the three day conference [in Colorado Springs] because of all of the flight changes and just the stress of it.”

Spirit rebooked her on a flight to New York the next day, and offered her a $50 voucher and told her, “Have a nice life,” Thomas said on Wednesday.

“My friend went to the conference,” her affidavit states. “She sold over 400 books, and I believe that the opportunity would’ve been the same for me at the three day conference. I have four books and I believe that I would’ve had opportunities that I can not recoup now… Because I missed the February 23-25, 2024 conference, I was replaced with [nurse and motivational speaker] Dr. Carlotta Gabriele for the June 6-9, 2024 conference.”

A snippet from Audrey Thomas’ lawsuit against Spirit Airlines.

Audrey Thomas is seeking $350,000 from Spirit Airlines for lost work and business opportunities.

Queens County Supreme Court

Thomas says in the affidavit that she was born with Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends down into the spinal canal, is in ongoing treatment for hypertension, diabetes, panic attacks, anxiety, asthma, depression, high cholesterol, insomnia, mania, and bipolar disorder, and has suffered two strokes. She claims the experience at the gate in Atlanta led to her mental breakdown and subsequent psychiatric hospitalization, which allegedly put her out of work “for days,” and that she is now taking Xanax, Zoloft, and Abilify as a result.

“Therefore[,] I believe that spirit [sic] should compensate me for all of the losses that I’ve had,” Thomas says in her affidavit, which demands a total of $350,000: $100,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress, loss of earnings, and expenses related to her delayed trip back to New York City, as well as $200,000 for “future mental health care,” and $50,000 for medication.

In her own affidavit, the friend with whom Thomas was on the phone when the incident went down, said, “The level of disregard for Audrey and the other wheel chair [sic] passenger [sic] and the couple with the small child was appalling at best[,] vicious and callously disregarding at worst. This woman was a supervisor and she made it her duty to punish three separate families because Audrey called her lady. I strongly recommend that Spirit takes action immediately.”

Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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