South Korean flight attendant Kim Do-hee is suing Korean Air and jailed former executive Heather Cho in the US over what became known as the “nut rage” incident.
Lawyers for Kim Do-hee allege that Heather Cho verbally and physically attacked the flight attendant for the way she served nuts on a plane taking off from New York’s JFK airport on December 5.
Heather Cho, also known as Cho Hyun-ah, later ordered the taxiing plane to offload another flight steward.
Last month, Heather Cho was jailed for one year for obstructing aviation safety.
Cho Hyun-ah was a vice-president overseeing cabin service for Korean Air, and is also the daughter of the airline’s chairman. She is appealing against her conviction.
Kim Do-hee’s civil lawsuit, filed in New York City, is seeking compensation for damage to her career, reputation and emotional wellbeing.
It alleges that Heather Cho screamed and hit Kim Do-hee after being served the nuts in their bag not a bowl.
Kim Do-hee’s lawyers said that “the evidence in this case will demonstrate that Cho’s actions were not only humiliating, degrading, and damaging to Kim, but were also emblematic of Cho’s unbridled arrogance and disturbing sense of entitlement”.
The summons also stated the flight attendant was pressured to lie to government investigators to cover up the incident and to appear in public with Heather Cho “as part of an orchestrated effort to try and rehabilitate Cho’s public image”, reported AP.
They said the airline had not responded to Kim Do-hee’s attempt to settle her claim privately.
Earlier reports said that after Heather Cho was served the nuts by Kim Do-hee, she summoned head steward Park Chang-jin and confronted him about the presentation.
Park Chang-jin said in a television interview in December that he was forced to kneel in front of Heather Cho, who then ordered him off the flight.
The case opened a national debate about the Korean business system, which is dominated by family companies known as chaebols.
Some of the families running these businesses have been accused of high-handedness and acting with impunity.