HOUSTON (CN) - Delta Air Lines obtained stolen emails hacked from the computer of the director of a nonprofit coalition seeking an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, the woman claims in Federal Court. Kathleen Hanni claims Delta used the stolen emails to sabotage the Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights in Congress, because it would cost the airline money.
Hanni says she formed the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights in January 2007 to seek legislation that would require airlines to offer relief to passengers' rights during lengthy runway delays. The group is also known as Flyersrights.org,
"As a result of Hanni, and the organization's efforts, there are currently four airline-passenger's-rights bills before Congress," according to the federal complaint. "The bills would require airlines to provide food, water, access to restrooms, clean air and access to medical treatment during flight delays on the Tarmac.
"More importantly, the bills would require airlines to provide passengers the option to deplane if they have been delayed on the Tarmac for over three hours. If the bills are passed, airlines stand to lose over $40 million in lost revenues and millions more in accommodations for flyers deplaned during delays."
During her research, Hanni says, she exchanged information with Frederick Foreman, an MIT graduate working for Metron Aviation. She says the Federal Aviation Administration hired Metron to study "airline surface delays."
Metron Aviation, also named as a defendant, gave Foreman permission to share information with Hanni, and they shared statistics their research had uncovered, according to the complaint.
"In his final report Foreman pinpoints Delta as an airline experiencing excessive surface delays," Hanni claims.
"During the time Hanni was sharing information with Foreman, Hanni's personal computer files and Flyersrights e-mail accounts were hacked. America Online ('AOL'), Hanni's e-mail service provider, confirmed the e-mail accounts were hacked. As a result of the hacking, spreadsheets, lists of donors, e-mails, Department of Transportation statistics and Hanni's personal files were redirected to an unknown location. Additionally, all of the information on Hanni's personal laptop were corrupted and rendered useless.
"On Sept. 25, 2009 Metron executives confronted Foreman with the stolen e-mails and claimed Delta, a client of Metron, was angry about Hanni getting information that would help pass the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights. Metron had the stolen e-mails and files from AOL and Hanni's personal computer in its possession.
"When Foreman asked Metron how Metron obtained the information, Metron claimed that Delta had provided them with the stolen e-mails. Confirming Metron's claims, the screenshots of the stolen e-mails presented to Foreman were from Delta. Foreman was fired by Metron the same day."
The screenshots of the stolen e-mails confirmed they were from Delta, Hanni says.
Hanni and her coalition demand punitive damages of $10 million for conspiracy and invasion of privacy. They are represented by Jason Gibson.