Tape Clears Jeopardy! Host of Airline Assault

ByABC News via logo
May 30, 2001, 9:16 PM

May 31 -- In March of last year, a United Airlines employee claimed Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek slammed a metal guard down on her hand while he was trying to get an oversized bag through an X-ray machine.

But in a development that popped up like one of the Daily Doubles that appear on his show's game board, Trebek and his lawyer tracked down an airport surveillance tape that showed that he did no wrong.

Since the charges were filed, Trebek has been maintaining his innocence. After the tape surfaced, the plaintiff who was claiming battery charges and seeking unspecified damages dropped the case.

"Yes, I absolutely do feel vindicated, although it's not the outlook that I had hoped for," Trebek told Good Morning America. "What I really wanted was to go before a jury and present my case and have them adjudicate it and say hey, yeah, you're innocent."

A Flap at LAX

The employee, Marlene Andrade, 31, of Hawthorne, Calif., laid out her complaint in court documents filed in March 2000 in Superior Court in Torrance, Calif.

She said that in May 1999 at the Los Angeles International Airport, she asked Trebek to put his oversized bag on a conveyor belt that has a guard at its mouth to check bag sizes. She claimed that he lifted the metal guard as if he had same privileges as airline employees and slammed it on her hand when she intervened, Andrade claimed.

Trebek explained how the tape disputed her story. The guard on the belt was actually plastic and not metal, according to Trebek.

"Now, in her deposition she maintains that she came up behind me, told me that I couldn't do that, and she says that we engaged in a tug of war at that point," Trebek said. "Well, as you can see on the tape, my right hand is holding the suit bag while I'm conversing with her."

Trebek said he did ask the woman a few questions, in what was a heated, but not angry exchange. He asked why he couldn't he put his bag through, since one of the customer representatives had told him he could.