A lawsuit filed in New York City this week accuses CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon of biting two medical workers at the United States Embassy in Baghdad last month while drunk.
On Tuesday, the two emergency medical technicians — Charles Simons and Tracy Lamar — filed the suit in New York County Supreme Court against CNN and Damon, Courthouse News reported, and together they’re requesting $2 million on account of the correspondent’s alleged “outrageous conduct.”
According to the New York Daily News, the two EMTs were working for a private contractor in Baghdad on July 19 when a “seriously intoxicated” Damon became “unruly and violent” towards embassy staff, prompting the medics to try and calm the correspondent down. Damon reportedly shrugged off those attempts, however, and then boasted of being “a major reporter for CNN” before biting the EMTs, the suit suggests.
"She was biting them both pretty furiously. She has good teeth,” David Jaroslawicz, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Daily News. “Eventually they subdued her.”
Courthouse News reported that the Simons and Lamar also allege that Damon “has a history of becoming intoxicated and then abusive” and write in the suit that, "In fact, defendant Damon has a history of and penchant for violence even when sober."
When TMZ first reported on the lawsuit on Monday, a spokesperson for CNN told POLITICO that they were “not aware” of any legal action being taken against the network or the correspondent. Soon after, though, the New York Post reported that Damon had personally owned up to her behavior and even wrote an apology to the embassy staff last month after the ordeal — despite not recalling the details of the incident.
“I want to extent [sic] my sincerest apologies and deepest gratitude to all that were involved in helping me out,” the letter reads. “It’s been an extremely stressful time, I was exhausted, I had not had proper food all day and clearly miscalculated how my body would handle the alcohol consumed. . .Needless to say, I am utterly mortified and take full responsibility for my actions, which are inexcusable.”
“I am being filled in on the details of my behavior. I am beyond embarrassed. My actions and words were entirely out of my character, and I hope that everyone can at some point forgive me,” the letter continues. “So once again, I am apologizing and extending my thanks to all that were involved in ensuring that I am, thankfully, in the end, taken care of and physically at least OK. Everyone was extremely professional and courteous in the face of my unjustified behavior.”
Speaking to the Daily News, Jaroslawicz said that "Legally, this is an admission,” and will likely be entered into the case as evidence. Additionally, the attorney claimed that both the US Department of Justice and Department of State are investigating the incident.
“To get so very drunk and attack people who are trying to help you is somewhat disturbing, particularly as a reporter,” Jaroslawicz told the New York Post.
Damon, 36, has worked at CNN since 2006, and won an Investigative Reporters and Editors’ IRE Award for her coverage of the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate building in Benghazi, Libya.