Mesa Airlines vs. Uslan
was a lawsuit filed by Mesa against Hawaii resident Mike Uslan for his participation in Hawaii's airline Employees Repelling Ornstein
, (also known as H.E.R.O., a grassroots
group of airline
employees who spread anti-semetic messages on tee shirts ) and for his alleged involvement with www.dontflygo.com
This website protested Mesa Air Group, Jonathan Ornstein, iflygo.com and go! Airlines, and still exists to this day.
Background of Mesa Airlines vs. Uslan
In January 2007 following the mailing of a tee shirt containing anti-semetic messages to the Jewish Chairman of Mesa, one of the members of the group HERO who provided content on the website www.dontflygo.com were named in a lawsuit. One of the indiviuals behind HERO and providing content to the website was airline formerly known as Aloha Airlines
First Officer Mike Uslan became involuntarily involved in two lawsuits with Mesa. One was the Hawaiian Airlines
v. Mesa case in federal bankruptcy court which Hawaiian recently was awarded $80 Million, and the other is a lawsuit against Mike personally, Mesa Airlines v. Uslan, that was filed by Mesa in Arizona Federal Court on January 26, 2007.
On June 25th 2007, an Arizona Judge agreed with Mike Uslan and dismissed Mesa's lawsuit. Mike Uslan won a David vs. Goliath battle.
Mike became unemployed when Aloha Airlines ceased to be and seems to be somewhat bitter about the whole situation.
Excerpts from Mesa's Judgment
"Uslan's membership in H.E.R.O., established by a news article that thus far has been Mesa's only means to ascertain a named party, is not sufficient to show that Uslan purposely directed his alleged actions at the forum state".
"Mesa's evidence of Uslan's membership in H.E.R.O. demonstrates a loose affiliation with the website, at best. But Mesa fails to establish a substantial connection between Uslan and the allegedly defamatory site that would subject him to personal jurisdiction in Arizona".
"Mesa does not offer evidence to suggest that Arizona residents, other than a paralegal for Mesa's counsel, visited the website, or financially supported H.E.R.O.'s efforts".
"the website's content would be most relevant to Hawaiian residents traveling inter-island or those affiliated with local airlines, since the website aimed to protect the smaller local (Hawaii) airlines to Mesa's detriment".
"Mesa attempts to parlay a news article identifying Uslan's
affiliation with H.E.R.O. into a means of discovering the names and agencies of those actually responsible for the website".
"Mesa bases its discovery request on nothing more than Uslan's attenuated affiliation with the website and unsupported allegations"
Timeline of events
- On or about February 2nd 2007, Mike Uslan, a resident of the State of Hawaii and a pilot for Aloha Airlines, first got ordered to produce documents in the Hawaiian Airlines v. Mesa lawsuit by the consultant for Mesa known as “GCW” Mo Garfinkle Consultants. Mo Garfinkle is the same person who said in e-mails to Mesa CFO Peter Murname, “if Aloha stayed in the picture this project (go!) made no sense”
- Uslan contacted GCW’s attorneys, asked for an extension and was granted it.
- Two days later, GCW (represented by Jason Tani and Lissa Andrews at Rush Moore LLP) ordered Uslan to now give an expanded oral deposition. (see exhibits)
- Two days after that Uslan was served with a complaint from Mesa Airlines (represented by David Rogers at Squire Sanders and Dempsey) in Arizona Federal Court for his involvement in www.dontflygo.com
- The timing was transparent. GCW and Mesa denied all ties but according to an article in the Honolulu Weekly the former Hawaii Attorney General representing Mesa stopped short of denying all links.
- Uslan filed a protective order in Hawaii against GCW and Garfinkle.
- David Rogers representing Mesa Airlines granted Uslan an extension in the Arizona lawsuit which expired on March 14th 2007.
- Mar. 14th 2007 Mike Uslan won a protective order, which was filed in Honolulu. The Honorable Judge Robert Faris granted the protective order in a quick 30 minute hearing.
- March 14th 2007, Mike Uslan, represented by Jeffrey Miller from Bushnell and Miller, filed a motion to dismiss Mesa’s lawsuit in Arizona under the grounds that The Federal Court in Arizona lacks specific and general jurisdiction over defendant Uslan.
- April 13th, 2007, Mesa Airlines misses deadline to file their response to Uslan's motion to dismiss.
- April 16th on the third day AFTER the deadline expired, Jeffrey Miller grants Mesa an extension.
- April 20th Mesa gets their reply in.
- May 4th 2007, Uslan files final Reply in support of the Motion to Dismiss.
- June 25th 2007 The case was dismissed.
- That Uslan and other un-named individuals own and run the dontflygo.com website, which is essentially a blog. (Mesa later would argue it was NOT a blog)
- Mesa claims specifically that the website violates Mesa's trademarks via keywords found in the metatags. They claim that the trademark infringement is the 'meta-tags' on the website that use the words 'iflygo.com', 'go airline', and 'Jonathan Ornstein', among others. (remember in July 2006 it was OK for Mesa to stuff iflygo.com with Hawaiian Airlines’ keywords) “Local airline battle flares anew” http://starbulletin.com/2006/07/15/news/story02.html
- Mesa also alleges the website makes defamatory statements against Mesa and Jonathan Ornstein. Mesa claims that defamatory statements include dontflygo.com mentioning that Mesa “cannot retain pilots” and they “treat their employees poorly”. Mesa also alleges that dontflygo.com is defamatory when they say Mesa is “dumping tickets below cost via predatory pricing” and “ranks poorly in customer complaints, lost baggage and cancellations”.
- Mesa also alleges that the website competes unfairly with Mesa and that the website's claim “Mesa is violating federal and state anti-competitive practices laws” is false. To summarize, Mesa claims that the website is designed to mislead go airlines' customers into visiting the site and viewing the allegedly false information.
- Mesa is claiming in their lawsuit that Uslan and dontflygo.com was, “impugning the honesty, integrity, and business reputation of Mesa Airlines” and “harming Mesa Airlines’ reputation in such a way as to lower Mesa Airlines’ in the estimation of the community with customers and potential customers, with stock holders and potential stockholders, and may make it difficult for Mesa to attract or retain employees”.
The HERO group that formed the website and held rallies against go! included sever anti-semetic individuals who thought it would be a good idea to send a Tee shirt with anti-semetic messages to Mesa's CEO who is Jewish.
- An immediate injunction against dontflygo.com
- Uslan to reveal the identities of “all persons known to him who provided or sponsored content for or published content on the website located at www.dontflygo.com”
Additional references and sources
Mesa sues Aloha Airlines pilot Pacific Business News
News sources after the lawsuit was won by Uslan