HOUSTON – An attorney for a Continental Airlines flight attendant asked a jury Thursday to award his client at least $405,000 for physical and mental pain she suffered as a result of an alleged attack by the wife of megachurch pastor Joel Osteen.
The attorney's request came during closing arguments in the civil trial resulting from a lawsuit flight attendant Sharon Brown filed against Victoria Osteen, the co-pastor of Houston's popular Lakewood Church.
The case reportedly went to the jury for consideration early Thursday afternoon, according to local media reports.
Brown told jurors that Victoria Osteen became verbally and physically abusive before the start of a 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo.
Brown has said Victoria Osteen got so upset when a spill on the armrest of her first-class seat was not quickly cleaned up that she threw Brown against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast while attempting to rush into the cockpit. She said that she was so traumatized that she was unable to work for five days and her religious beliefs were damaged.
Another flight attendant, Maria Johnson, supported Brown's claims. Both flight attendants testified they had to block the cockpit door to prevent Victoria Osteen from getting inside.
Brown wanted an apology and punitive damages amounting to 10 percent of Victoria Osteen's net worth as part of her lawsuit. Victoria Osteen's attorney, Rusty Hardin, has declined to discuss her finances. It was unclear what percentage of her net worth the $405,000 might be.
Both Victoria Osteen and Joel Osteen, who was on the same flight, testified last week that no attack took place.
Victoria Osteen told jurors she went up to Brown after no one helped her clean up the spill. She said it was Brown who became angry during their discussion. Victoria Osteen denied ever touching Brown or trying to get into the cockpit.
Three passengers in first-class and a pilot aboard testified Wednesday they never saw or heard anything that indicated Victoria Osteen assaulted Brown.
Hardin, during sometimes relentless and aggressive cross-examination of Brown, tried to cast doubt the flight attendant suffered any physical or mental injuries. Brown admitted that doctors found no physical injuries on her and she delayed getting psychiatric treatment.
Claudia Hall, a former Continental flight attendant, testified by video deposition she was falsely accused by Brown of hitting and pushing her into the bathroom wall of a plane in November 1995.
The Osteens are co-pastors of Houston's Lakewood Church, which draws about 42,000 people each week for services. Joel Osteen's weekly television address is broadcast in the U.S. and internationally and his books are sold around the globe.
The Osteens paid a $3,000 fine the Federal Aviation Administration levied against Victoria Osteen for interfering with a crew member but testified they did that to put the incident behind them.