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‘Nut rage’ victim files civil suit in U.S.

Korean Air flight attendant claims verbal, physical abuse, humiliation

A Korean Air flight attendant involved in the “nut rage” incident has filed a civil lawsuit against Heather Cho, the former vice president of the airliner, with a court in the United States on Monday, saying she was subjected to verbal and physical abuse and humiliation.


The suit was filed on Monday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Queens County, according to U.S.-based law firms representing Kim Do-hee on Wednesday.

Kim, a female cabin crew member who served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish to first-class passenger Cho, a daughter of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, was verbally and physically abused by the former executive for not following the in-flight service manual on a Seoul-bound Korean Air flight from New York on Dec. 5. Angered by the service, Cho chided the cabin crew chief and ordered the taxiing plane to offload him.

“The evidence in this case will demonstrate that Heather 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,” said Andrew J. Weinstein, founder of The Weinstein Law Firm representing Kim in a press release.

He added that he is “very confident that the legal system in New York will find Cho civilly responsible for the extensive damage that she has caused to Kim’s career, reputation and emotional well-being.”

During a court testimony in Seoul in January, Kim said Korean Air offered her a position as a college professor in return for giving testimony favorable to Cho in her trial, but she rejected the offer.

“Kim had hoped to privately resolve this dispute with Cho and Korean Air without the need for litigation. Unfortunately, Cho and Korean Air, through their respective counsel, have not to date engaged with us in any substantive settlement discussions,” said Jonathan D. Cogan, a partner in the New York office of the international litigation boutique Kobre & Kim.

Kim is seeking compensatory damages and punitive damages, and the amount will be determined at the trial.

A Korean Air spokesman told The Korea Herald that the company has not yet been able to give an official comment regarding the lawsuit as it has not received a complaint from the plaintiff’s attorney.

Kim is currently on sick leave until March 18.

In February, the South Korean court sentenced Cho to one year in prison after finding her guilty for violating the aviation safety law and other charges. Cho filed a notice of appeal to the Seoul court on the following day. 

By Park Han-na and Shin Ji-hye