Napan sues airline over delays, discomfort


(eTN) – Kate Hanni made headlines in 2007 for trying to get Congress to pass an airline passenger’s bill of rights.

Now, the Napa resident is taking her crusade to court.

In a class action lawsuit filed late Friday in Napa County Superior Court, Hanni sued American Airlines, charging that the nine hours she spent stranded inside an American Airlines plane on the tarmac of an airport in Texas in December 2006 amounted to false imprisonment. She also accuses the airline of negligence and breach of contract.

Airline officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

In Congressional testimony and past interviews, Hanni said American Airlines flights that day trapped passengers in aircraft with overflowing toilets and no food or water for hours, even for small children.

“Approximately 12,000 passengers involving about 100 flights on Dec. 29, 2006, were confined to aircraft diverted from Dallas by defendant to other airports and confined for three to 12 hours on the aircraft in poor or deplorable conditions by defendant,” the lawsuit reads.

Hanni maintains in court papers that American Airlines “should have known that passengers needed to be supplied with essential means of comfort and survival on board aircraft, but failed and refused to do so.”

She is seeking unspecified damages.

In the last year, Hanni founded, collecting 21,000 signatures from supporters for her bill of rights. Congress did not enact the measure.