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American Airlines sues former flight attendant for data privacy leaks

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American Airlines is suing former flight attendant Gailen David for leaking the itineraries and ticketing details of American Airlines executives and improper use of the airline's trademarks in papers filed Tuesday in a North Texas District Court. The suit names David, a former Miami based international flight purser, along with ten as-yet unnamed American Airlines employees who the carrier alleges provided David with confidential passenger data for publication on his website. The papers indicate the names of the additional defendants will be added when they are determined during the discovery process. Several causes of action are also included in the suit, including breach of the duty of loyalty, breach of fiduciary duty, trade infringement and anti-dilution statutes under Texas Law, and conspiracy to commit/aiding and abetting the aforementioned.

The suit names several examples where the travel itineraries of American Airlines executives were shared publicly prior to departure. In another example, the seat assignment and frequent flier status of a retired executive's wife were published, in addition to the seat assignment of another frequent flier allegedly "bumped" to coach class on the same flight to accommodate her.

The filing goes on to state David admitted to posting the flight itineraries, but pointed out that the purpose of doing so was to expose situations where revenue customers had been downgraded to economy class:

"The only travel plans mentioned on my site involved current and former American Airlines executives and board members traveling first class with their spouses and bumping American's full fare first class passengers to coach in order to provide them with a first class seat."

A copy of the suit was also posted on David's website, where he claimed the identity of the additional John Does "will shock and AAmaze everyone and have AA’s management looking even more unprepared to continue to lead to company". The Dallas Morning News also reported that David said, in response to news of the suit:

"American Airlines is having a hard time dealing with the fact that they were unable to intimidate me with the threat of termination and this is just their next step. It will draw closer attention to what's happening in the upper tiers of American's management.

In another interview via Skype with the DFW NBC affiliate, David claimed the information was not obtained in the manner described in the lawsuit:

"When it comes out how I was receiving that information, it's going to be very embarrassing to American Airlines because I was never getting information from the company's computers," he said. "No employees were ever furnishing that information to me."

Asked how he did get the information, he said, "I'm not telling that."

An AA spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News: "This lawsuit is designed to identify and hold legally accountable those employees who have and who continue to provide private and confidential passenger travel information and personal employee information to former employee Gailen David for publication on his commercial websites."

He goes on to say American employees found to be involved could face disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Click here for the full text of the filing

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