Hawaiian Air alleges Mesa CFO trashed evidence
Hawaiian Airlines has filed documents in its lawsuit against Mesa Air Group over the startup of interisland carrier go! alleging that Mesa's chief financial officer destroyed evidence on three computers related to the case.
The lawsuit, scheduled for trial on Sept. 25 before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris, contends that Mesa violated a confidentiality agreement by using proprietary information, gathered as a potential investor during Hawaiian Airlines' bank-ruptcy, for its interisland operation.
In a legal brief filed yesterday, Hawaiian's attorneys allege that Chief Financial Officer Peter Murnane "engaged in willful and deliberate spoliation of evidence that existed on three of his computers," despite instructions from Mesa's attorney to preserve all documents related to the case.
Hawaiian's filing cites a recently discovered e-mail from Murnane in which he allegedly sought advice on how to delete files "so that it appears they were never on the hard drive."
Hawaiian also says it recently learned that in February 2006, soon after Hawaiian filed its lawsuit against Mesa, someone ran a program designed to wipe deleted files on Murnane's home computer.
Signs of "data wiping" also were found on two laptops used by Murnane, Hawaiian's attorneys allege.
Murnane's e-mails have figured prominently before in this case, as well as a similar lawsuit filed by Aloha Airlines against Mesa.
In one e-mail message to airline consultant Mo Garfinkle, Murnane said that the only way it made sense for Mesa to come into the Hawaii market was to give Aloha, then in bankruptcy, "the last push." Mesa said the e-mail was taken out of context.
Murnane could not be reached for comment by press time late yesterday. Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa's chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday that he had no comment on Hawaiian's filing.
However, he added that if Hawaiian prevails in the lawsuit, "it will cost the consumers of Hawaii hundreds of millions of dollars."
In addition to monetary damages, Hawaiian is seeking an injunction barring go! from selling tickets for one year.