Korean Air flight attendant sues ‘Nut Rage’ ex-VP in US

March 11, 2015
Cho Hyun-ah Former Korean Air Vice President

Cho Hyun-ah
Former Korean Air Vice President

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A flight attendant who says she was living her dream by working for Korean Air is now suing the airline and its infamous nut rage executive, claiming the bizarre onboard tantrum ruined her career.

Kim Do-hee, the flight attendant, is seeking compensation through a trial in New York city after she was verbally and physically attacked by Korean Air heiress 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, 27, 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.

“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,” lawyer Andrew J. Weinstein was quoted as saying by the New York Daily News.

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 from prison.

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 Korean Air was her dream job since she was a high school student but 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 Co. did not respond to a request for comment.