A flight attendant who was harassed by a former Korean Air Lines Co. vice president in what became known as the nut rage case has filed a civil lawsuit against the airline and the executive.
Kim Do Hee, the flight attendant, is seeking compensation through a trial in New York City after she was verbally and physically attacked by Cho Hyun-ah, according to a statement on Wednesday by two American law firms, the Weinstein Law Firm and Kobre & Kim.
Cho, a vice president overseeing cabin service at the time of the Dec. 5 incident, was enraged that Kim served her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a dish.
After a heated confrontation with crew in the first-class cabin, Cho ordered head flight attendant Park Chang-jin off the plane, forcing it to return to a gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
It is the first civil lawsuit connected with the nut rage case, which infuriated South Koreans and hogged global headlines. Last month, a South Korean court sentenced Cho, 40, to one year in prison for violating aviation security laws, using violence against a flight attendant and other charges. Cho, who is the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, has appealed the ruling.
The summons filed Monday with the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of Queens said Cho screamed obscenities at Kim and hit and threatened her.
She was also pressured to lie to government investigators to cover up the incident and to appear in public with Cho “as part of an orchestrated effort to try and rehabilitate Cho’s public image,” the summons said.
Kim is seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at the trial.
Kim was unable to resolve the dispute privately, and both Korean Air and Cho did not engage in “any substantive” settlement discussions with Kim’s lawyers, the statement said. Cho will be held responsible for the damage that she has caused to Kim’s career, reputation and emotional well-being, it said.
During Cho’s trial in Seoul last month, Kim testified that Cho’s power at the airline was “unimaginably big” and she could not refuse her orders.
She also said that Korean Air was her dream job since she was a high-school student, but that after false rumors spread on the internet about her accepting a professorship in exchange for lying to investigators, she could not return to work as a flight attendant.
Korean Air Lines did not respond to a request for comment.