California, USA - Chaldeans are very fast learners. All it took was a number of passengers in 1999 that were stranded in Detroit Metro Airport in Michigan to sue Northwest airlines for wrongful imprisonment. The 11 hour snowstorm and Northwest’s decision to keep everyone on board affected 7,000 passengers and ultimately cost them $7 million in an out of court settlement.
Unlike Chaldeans in Michigan, Kate Hanni can’t stand the cold. The California resident made that painfully clear after American Airlines diverted her flight for more than eight hours a year ago. The law suite filed by Hanni and another passenger alleges false imprisonment, fraud and negligence.
“Chaldeans are fed up of being taken advantage of because of our accents, hard-work ethics, or family togetherness. From my personal experience, people are envious of Chaldeans and don’t like the fact that we are a devoted community,” says Ann Kareem, a Michigan native who was part of the Northwest class action suit. “Homeowner’s association try to take advantage of Chaldeans, school districts, and clubs do the same because they think they can get away with it or are upset that Chaldeans are successful or how our family’s remain so close. Whatever the reason, you can ask any Chaldean and they will tell you they are often treated unfairly. I am glad Kate is suing in California, more Chaldeans need to sue.”
Hanni’s flight diverted from Fort Worth to Austin, Texas on December 29, 2006, because of stormy weather over North Texas. Passengers were forced to remain seated on the plan for hours and weren’t allowed to leave despite overflowing toilets, little food or water.
Although the flights were among hundreds diverted that day when an unusual system of storms snarled traffic over American's largest hub airport Hanni and other passenger’s challenge the way they were treated. The disrespect inspired Hanni to create a passenger-rights group and has lobbied Congress to pass an "airline passenger's bill of rights" that would guarantee minimum service levels for air travelers. Congress refuses to consider such a bill.
Another passenger on the same flight, Catherine Ray, of Fayetteville, Ark., sued in Arkansas. Both suits, filed in circuit courts, seek class-action status and claim that American airlines decision affected 12,000 passengers that day.
The lawsuit claims that the toilets were full and would not flush and the disgusting odor of human excrement and body odor filled the plane. It also says passengers were deprived of medication and suffered hunger, thirst, anxiety, and physical illness, emotional distress, and monetary loss.
American airline has not replied to www.chaldean.org’s repeated e-mails or phone call messages. Online research reveals that the airline has implemented new technology to improve its system for dealing with severe weather. Also, the airline has installed new software for tracking diverted flights and now allows passengers to leave planes after four hours if safety allows.
The class action lawsuit Hanni filed is seeking unspecified damages as well as legal expenses.