The executive director of The Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights alleges in a federal lawsuit filed today that Delta Air Lines obtained hacked e-mails and sabotaged her organization's efforts to support pro-consumer legislation in Congress, according to The Gibson Law Firm.
The coalition favors passenger rights legislation that protects consumers from tarmac delays, and is opposed by airlines. ASTA and the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) also support limits on delays.
Kate Hanni, the executive director and founder of the coalition, which also is known as FlyersRights.org, sued the airline and Metron Aviation, Inc., of Dulles, VA, after her e-mails and those of at least two reporters, including one from USA Today, were mysteriously obtained by the defendants.
Hanni said she learned from America Online that her personal e-mail files were redirected to an unknown location, along with donor lists, spreadsheets and other data. The lawsuit alleges that the e-mail hacking began in 2008 and continued this year while Hanni was communicating with an airline industry consultant who analyzed airline delays for the federal government.
The consultant, Dr. Frederick J. Foreman, provided a sworn affidavit that he was authorized to share publicly available data with Hanni and news reporters, but was terminated on September 25 by Metron when Delta officials learned of the communications. According to the complaint, "When Foreman asked Metron how they got the e-mails, Metron claimed that Delta had provided them with the stolen e-mails."
Attorney Jason A. Gibson, of The Gibson Law Firm, in Houston, represents Hanni and her organization. We are aggressively investigating how Delta Air Lines and Metron obtained Kate Hanni's private e-mails and other data," he stated. "Regardless of how the information was obtained, the intent was to spy on and intimidate Kate Hanni and her organization.
"This lawsuit is intended to show the flying public how Delta responded to our organization's promise to help improve the health, safety, dignity and well-being of airline passengers," he contineud. "Delta's conduct at our nation's airports and behind the scenes deserves scrutiny."
The case is "Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights a/k/a FlyersRights.org; and Kathleen Hanni, v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., and Metron Aviation, Inc.," in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (Civil Action No. 4:09-cv-03305).