You'd think that American Airlines has its hands full what with bankruptcy proceedings and all, but shut up, they've gone and filed suit against the loud-mouthed, gender-bending, former flight attendant whose new career goal, it seems, is embarrassing the heck out of the airline.
In a suit filed in in Tarrant County, Texas last Tuesday, American Airlines complains that Gailen David, a flight attendant it hired more than 20 years ago and fired last month, has turned around like a Texas rattler and bitten the company where it hurts. The lawsuit claims David is receiving confidential information about American's passengers and publishing it on his websites. The purpose, it cannot be disputed, is to shame the airline.
Members of the company's board of directors, high-level executives and their spouses have been accommodated in first class seats while premium class customers are shuttled to the back of the plane, David writes, citing "moles" with access to this internal, ostensibly confidential, reservation and ticketing information.
Willful, wanton, malicious, outrageous, even, yep, outright "evil" is how American describes David's behavior in asking the Texas state court to make it stop. Well, interestingly, I can't see anywhere in the 35-page complaint where American actually asks the recently fired wordsmith to stop his commentary. Being American means, I guess, the airline understands David has a first-amendment right to write what he wants, especially now that he's no longer working for the carrier.
American does, however, make the point that whatever the perky, celebrity, former flight attendant does write on his many blogs and websites, he better immediately stop using the double A, as in "AA," which it claims is its protected, internationally-known and recognized trademark. David has gone to town with thAAt gimmick which he's used for his online petition "SAAveAA.com," in naming his cross-dressing online videos "AAluminum Lady" and "LaVidAA loca" and in his musings about creating a better world for air travelers in his, "I have a DreAAm" proposal. (Wait a minute, aren't those last two straying into Ricky Martin and Martin Luther King, Jr. trademark territory?)
In bringing the suit in its home county, American is likely to find a sympathetic ear. And I'm not seeing this case as any precedent-setting free speech landmark either. Quite simply American is trying to establish that its confidential information can't be spilled into out into cyberspace and its brand identity can't be hijacked by any employee with a camera and a flair for the dramatic who happens to disagree with corporate policy.
In an interview with a television reporter David said, "American knows that I'm a force to be reckoned with." Twenty-four thousand followers on Twitter and more than 7,000 likes on his dearskysteward Facebook page back up that claim. But what David doesn't have is a team of high-priced lawyers in a friendly jurisdiction. He may soon wish he did.