Flight attendant sues Korean Air, ex-executive over 'nut rage'

  • AFP, Seoul
  • Updated: Mar 12, 2015 08:20 IST

A flight attendant targeted by a former Korean Air vice president during a now infamous "nut rage" tantrum has filed a civil lawsuit against the jailed executive and the airline.

Kim Do-Hee's lawyers said the suit filed on Tuesday in New York sought compensation for the verbal and physical attack unleashed on their client by Cho Hyun-Ah -- also known as Heather Cho.

Cho, who is the daughter of Korean Air's chairman, was sentenced to one year in jail last month after being found guilty of safety breaches and assaulting cabin staff.

The main charge related to her decision to force a taxiing New York-Seoul Korean Air flight to return to its departure gate on December 5.

Cho had insisted on expelling the chief purser from the plane after taking exception to being served macadamia nuts in a bag, rather than a bowl. The civil lawsuit alleges that Cho attacked, threatened and screamed obscenities at Kim, and then pressured her to cover up the incident by lying to government regulators.

"The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Heather Cho's actions were not only humiliating, degrading and damaging to Ms Kim, but were also emblematic of Ms Cho's unbridled arrogance and disturbing sense of entitlement," the law firms Weinstein Law Firm PLLC and Kobre & Kim LLP said in an emailed joint statement.

The statement said the incident had caused "extensive damage" to Kim's career, reputation, and emotional well-being.

Both Cho and Korean Air were named as defendants.

The airline declined to comment, saying it had received no communication from Kim's lawyers.

Cho's behaviour triggered a huge public backlash in South Korea, where it was seen as emblematic of a generation of spoilt and arrogant offspring of owners of the giant family-run conglomerates, or "chaebols", that dominate the national economy.

The case generated international headlines and became something of a national embarrassment, with South Korean media commentators suggesting Cho had shamed the country.

Cho, who resigned her executive post with Korean Air before her trial, has appealed against her conviction.

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