Hawaiian Airlines Wins Lawsuit with Mesa

 - October 31, 2007, 7:59 AM

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Hawaii yesterday ruled in favor of Hawaiian Airlines in its lawsuit against Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group, awarding $80 million in damages and ordering Mesa to pay all of Hawaiian’s legal costs and “reasonable” lawyer fees. Hawaiian had asked for $173 million and an injunction barring Mesa from operating Go! for a year, a request Judge Robert Faris rejected.

The award accounts for damages related to Mesa’s use of proprietary information it obtained during a failed attempt to participate in Hawaiian’s bankruptcy restructuring to later establish its Go! interisland subsidiary. Earlier this month Faris ruled that Mesa CFO Peter Murnane intentionally destroyed evidence Hawaiian Airlines could have used to prove Mesa engaged in predatory tactics in launching Go! last year. In his ruling, Faris rejected claims that Murnane accidentally deleted files related to the case while purging his computer of pornographic material.

The $80 million compensates Hawaiian for damages it suffered through this month. The court did not rule on future damages, and Hawaiian said it intends to study the opinions handed down yesterday and applicable law to determine what steps it can take to recover damages it might suffer in subsequent periods.

Fellow Hawaiian carrier Aloha Airlines has filed a similar lawsuit against Mesa, scheduled to go to trial in April.