The suit, filed by Kate Hanni of FlyersRights.org in U.S. District Court in Houston, seeks at least $11 million in actual and punitive damages, according to the complaint.
“Obviously, the idea that Delta would hack into someone’s email is clearly without merit,” Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said in an emailed statement. “Since this involves pending litigation, we cannot comment further.”
Kathleen Hanni, executive director and founder of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights filed suit after her emails were obtained by the defendants, her lawyer said in a statement.
Hanni and her group have been a thorn in the side of the airline industry, pushing Congress to enact a passenger bill of rights at a time when airlines are suffering from big revenue declines thanks to weak demand for air travel.
Among other things, Hanni supports a three-hour time limit on how long airlines can strand passengers on airport tarmacs. Legislation pending in the Senate would require that passengers be allowed to deplane after a three-hour wait.
The lawsuit alleges the email hacking began in 2008 and continued this year while Hanni was consulting with a Metron Aviation employee who was hired by the Federal Aviation Administration to analyze airline delays. Delta is a client of Metron’s, according to the suit.