Entertainment & Sports Law

Jay Leno is sued over rat bestiality jokes

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A former flight attendant who was ridiculed on The Tonight Show claims in a lawsuit that she was falsely accused of “engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat.”

Louann Giambattista, who formerly worked for American Airlines, filed suit against the show, NBC and Jay Leno last week, Courthouse News Service reports in a story picked up by Salon and TheWrap.com.

The Tonight Show segment aired after Giambattista sued the airline in June, claiming American had discriminated against her for a perceived mental disability (but not a real disability) stemming from co-workers’ false allegations that she carried pet rats on board in her pantyhose and underwear. ABC News has coverage of the prior suit.

Giambattista’s new suit says she was defamed in the show’s “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda” segment, in which Leno showed her photo and invited other comedians to comment on the suit.

Among the comedians’ comments:

• “If I were one of those rats, I would’ve been very upset. I prefer not to sit in cooch.”

• “I don’t understand this woman at all. If she wanted something that creepy in her underwear, she should have hooked up with me.”

• Giambattista “coulda used what the rest of us ladies use … a Rabbit” (referring to the name of a popular vibrator).

Giambattista says the Rabbit comment was most appalling because it “portrayed Ms. Giambattista as a woman engaged in sexual misconduct of the most depraved sort, bestiality.”

The suit claims that, after the show, Giambattista and her husband became “pariahs in their own community” and their marriage suffered.

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