Mesa files defamation suit against Web site
Mesa Air Group has sued the owner/operator of two airline industry Web sites and direct e-mail publication for printing articles that the Phoenix-based carrier claims have been defamatory to the airline and its chairman and chief executive, Jonathan Ornstein.
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County, accused Louisiana-based Planebusiness LLC, owner-operator Holly Hegeman and her husband of defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and tortious interference with business relations in connection with stories written about Mesa, the operator of interisland carrier go!, around the time of its federal trial in a lawsuit filed against it by Hawaiian Airlines.
In the Hawaiian-Mesa suit, Hawaiian sued Mesa over using confidential information obtained as a potential investor during Hawaiian's bankruptcy to gain a competitive advantage in entering the Hawaii market. A federal Bankruptcy Court judge ordered Mesa to pay Hawaiian $80 million in damages, plus interest and legal fees. Mesa is seeking a new trial.
The Hegemans operate Planebusiness.com and Planebuzz.com, which are Web sites that focus on the business and financial aspects of the airline industry. They also publish Plane Business Banter, a direct e-mail publication that focuses upon the airline industry and is distributed worldwide.
Mesa, which previously sued Holly Hegeman in 2002, is seeking an injunction to stop the Hegemans from posting comments on their various sites and blogs, a retraction concerning "the false and injurious statements" made concerning Mesa and Ornstein, and unspecified damages.
Hegeman said she received a letter on Oct. 18 from Mesa attorneys threatening to file a lawsuit unless she retracted her comments, but she refused and said she's going to continue "to publish everything that is relevant to this case."
Earlier this year, Mesa sued Aloha Airlines pilot Mike Uslan over a Web site that Mesa said was defamatory in opposing go!. In June, a federal judge in Phoenix threw out the suit because he said Mesa failed to establish a substantial connection between Uslan and the Web site, and provided insufficient reason for the case to be tried in Arizona.