Archive for Kevin Shalvey

A Spirit Airlines passenger alleges in a lawsuit against the carrier that a flight attendant sexually assaulted him

A yellow Spirit Airlines plane descending against a pale blue sky
A Spirit Airlines plan approaching Philadelphia International Airport in October. A passenger on another Spirit flight to Philadelphia alleges he was sexually assaulted by a flight attendant.
  • A Spirit Airlines passenger sued the airline, alleging a flight attendant sexually assaulted him.
  • According to the complaint, the alleged assault happened after the passenger was given several free bottles of whiskey.
  • Spirit Airlines didn't return requests for comment.

A Spirit Airlines passenger said a flight attendant offered him free alcohol, requested that he move to a private area of a plane, and then sexually assaulted him, according to a complaint.

The passenger, named only as M.B., filed a lawsuit last week against the airline, saying the carrier had been negligent. He sought damages of more than $150,000.

"This lawsuit was brought to seek justice for our client who, as our complaint asserts, was sexually assaulted by a flight attendant on a Spirit Airlines flight," Gregory Spizer of VSCP Law in Philadelphia, told Insider via email. "We look forward to pursuing the case in Court."

The lawsuit coincides with a rise in violent incidents aboard airplanes, although much of that unruly behavior has been aimed at flight crews. On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said it had received 5,033 unruly passenger reports in 2021. The FAA has opened 950 investigations in 2021, more than five times the 183 investigations it opened in 2020.

The lawsuit accused Spirit of negligence, saying the airline "should have known" about the flight attendant's "propensities to sexual violence, physical violence and sexual deviance."

But the complaint, which only used the flight attendant's first name, did not offer further details about the flight attendant's previous behavior. It was unclear if he'd been disciplined previously, or if the allegations about the flight attendant were speculative.

"Upon information and belief, Spirit Airlines failed to conduct a thorough background check or reference check on [the flight attendant,]" the complaint claimed. "Had Spirit Airlines conducted such a check, it would have discovered the concerns raised herein."

Spirit Airlines didn't return requests for comment.

M.B., of Atlanta, was flying on June 30 to Philadelphia to visit family, according to his complaint. He was seated near the back of the plane.

The flight attendant first gave him a free water bottle, according to the complaint. He "soon returned, winked at Plaintiff and pushed mini bottles of Jack Daniels into his chest." The flight attendant then stopped to offer more, and, a few minutes later, he "placed a balled-up napkin" with his phone number on M.B.'s table, the complaint alleges.

As the flight approached Philadelphia, the attendant "called Plaintiff to a private area at the back of the plane behind the bathrooms," the complaint claims.

Flight attendants are "in charge while the plane is in the air," so M.B. complied, the complaint said.

"When Plaintiff went to the back of the plane where [the flight attendant] had called for him, [the attendant] looked around and then, without warning, grabbed, groped and fondled Plaintiff's penis and private area," the complaint said. The flight attendant "then tried to unzip Plaintiff's pants."

In the lawsuit, Spirit was accused of six different counts, including assault, battery, and gross negligence in its hiring and supervision.

The complaint alleges that M.B. first contacted local police, but he was told that he'd have to contact the FBI instead, since the alleged assault happened in the air, as the plane approached Philadelphia. His complaint claims he filed a report with the bureau.

Carrie Adamowski, spokesperson for the FBI's Philadelphia Division, said she couldn't "confirm or deny any particular contact or the potential existence of an investigation."

"As a general matter, though, allegations of criminal conduct are reviewed by the FBI for their merit, with consideration of any applicable federal laws," Adamowski said in an email. "When warranted, the FBI proceeds to take appropriate action."

A summons was issued to Spirit on Wednesday, according to the docket in the US District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania.

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More than half of tech execs say the labor shortage has become their biggest concern, a survey shows

A woman in a pink shirt holds a folder in a line at a job fair in Los Angeles
A woman waiting in line at a job fair in Los Angeles in September.
  • About 57% of surveyed tech executives said the labor shortage was their top worry, CNBC reported.
  • Another 26% said supply chain issues were their highest worry, the survey said.
  • The US is grappling with a labor shortage, as employees re-evaluate their relationship with work.

Finding the right employees has risen to become the top concern among tech executives, amid the ongoing labor shortage, according to new polling data from CNBC.

About 57% of tech executives said staffing issues have become their top concern, the network reported. It cited a quarterly survey of its Technology Executive Council, a collective of C-level staffers.

About 26% of those surveyed said that supply chain issues were their top concern, making it the second-highest, the survey said.

The survey results came amid a countrywide reckoning for businesses, as employees in all industries re-evaluated their relationship to their jobs after a once-in-a-century pandemic caused a global economic shutdown.

Some employees, especially those in lower-paying sectors and retail, seem to have decided they don't want to return to their old ways.

More than 7.7 million American workers were unemployed as of mid-September, according to the latest government survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was down sharply from the height of the pandemic.

But, at the same time, more people were quitting than ever.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden said in a statement that wages across the country were rising and unemployment had dropped below 5% "for the first time since the pandemic struck." That made it "clear that our economy is getting back to normal despite the global challenges posed by the Delta variant," he said.

The CNBC survey, which was conducted during the first two weeks of October, found that about 70% of tech companies had expanded their searches for job applicants by increasing adding more roles for remote workers.

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At least 2 hedge funds dumped their SPAC stakes after a merger with Trump’s new media company was announced, reports say

Former President Donald Trump's social media site in front of a picture of Trump
Former President Donald Trump's new social media site.
  • Investors in the SPAC that merged with Trump Media reportedly sold their stakes on the news.
  • "For us, this was not a close call," Boaz Weinstein, of Saba Capital Management, told Bloomberg.
  • Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. climbed 357% on Thursday and 107% on Friday.

As news hit that former President Donald Trump's new media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, would go public via a SPAC, at least two investors pulled their money, reports said.

"I knew that for Saba the right thing was to sell our entire stake of unrestricted shares, which we have now done," Boaz Weinstein, founder of Saba Capital Management, told Reuters.

Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp., a SPAC, or special acquisition company, soared last week as it merged with Trump's new company. Saba sold in the market's "first hours" on Thursday, netting a small profit, The New York Times reported.

Saba Capital Management founder Boas Weinstein speaks to a crowd
Boaz Weinstein, founder and chief investment officer at Saba Capital Management.
Digital World shares jumped on Thursday to $45.40 apiece, a one-day gain of 357%. On Friday, the stock continued its march upward, touching $175 per share, a 285% gain, in midday trading before slipping back down. The stock ended the day at $94.20 per share, a 107% gain.

Reuters reported that Lighthouse Investment Partners also pulled its investment. In a statement sent to Reuters on Friday, the investment firm said: "Lighthouse was not aware of the pending merger and no longer holds unrestricted shares of the SPAC."

Saba had a 9.3% stake in the SPAC, while Lighthouse had a 11.2% stake, CNBC reported, citing documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in September.

In a statement emailed to Bloomberg, Weinstein said, "Many investors are grappling with hard questions about how to incorporate their values into their work. For us, this was not a close call."

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At least 2 hedge funds dumped their SPAC stakes after a merger with Trump’s new media company was announced, reports say

Former President Donald Trump's social media site in front of a picture of Trump
Former President Donald Trump's new social media site.
  • Investors in the SPAC that merged with Trump Media reportedly sold their stakes on the news.
  • "For us, this was not a close call," Boaz Weinstein, of Saba Capital Management, told Bloomberg.
  • Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. climbed 357% on Thursday and 107% on Friday.

As news hit that former President Donald Trump's new media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, would go public via a SPAC, at least two investors pulled their money, reports said.

"I knew that for Saba the right thing was to sell our entire stake of unrestricted shares, which we have now done," Boaz Weinstein, founder of Saba Capital Management, told Reuters.

Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp., a SPAC, or special acquisition company, soared last week as it merged with Trump's new company. Saba sold in the market's "first hours" on Thursday, netting a small profit, The New York Times reported.

Saba Capital Management founder Boas Weinstein speaks to a crowd
Boaz Weinstein, founder and chief investment officer at Saba Capital Management.
Digital World shares jumped on Thursday to $45.40 apiece, a one-day gain of 357%. On Friday, the stock continued its march upward, touching $175 per share, a 285% gain, in midday trading before slipping back down. The stock ended the day at $94.20 per share, a 107% gain.

Reuters reported that Lighthouse Investment Partners also pulled its investment. In a statement sent to Reuters on Friday, the investment firm said: "Lighthouse was not aware of the pending merger and no longer holds unrestricted shares of the SPAC."

Saba had a 9.3% stake in the SPAC, while Lighthouse had a 11.2% stake, CNBC reported, citing documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in September.

In a statement emailed to Bloomberg, Weinstein said, "Many investors are grappling with hard questions about how to incorporate their values into their work. For us, this was not a close call."

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Man files class-action lawsuit against Canon, seeking more than $5 million in damages over printers that won’t scan documents when ink cartridges are low

A Canon PIXMA printer on display at a booth
Canon PIXMA printers. A class-action complaint says the All-in-One printers won't scan when their ink is low.
  • A man in New York sued Canon, saying the firm's All-in-One printers won't scan without printer ink.
  • David Leacraft filed a class-action complaint in federal court on Tuesday.
  • Canon's "claims are false, misleading, and reasonably likely to deceive the public," he said.

A Queens man filed a class-action lawsuit against Canon, saying some of the electronics giant's All-in-One printers won't scan documents unless they have ink cartridges installed.

"In truth, the All-in-One Printers do not scan or fax documents when the devices have low or empty ink cartridges," said David Leacraft, the plaintiff, in a complaint filed Tuesday in US District Court in the Eastern District of New York.

"Canon's advertising claims are false, misleading, and reasonably likely to deceive the public," Leacraft added.

He purchased a "so-called all-in-one device," a Canon PIXMA MG2522, from Walmart in March 2021, he said in his complaint, which was first reported by Actionable Intelligence, a research firm.

"Plaintiff Leacraft would not have purchased the device or would not have paid as much for it had he known that he would have to maintain ink in the device in order to scan documents," the complaint said.

Canon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit said it expected the full list of plaintiffs to be more than 100 consumers. They'd seek more than $5 million in total damages and costs, it said.

Leacraft's complaint collected similar gripes against the company from online forums, including Canon's community forum. Since at least 2015, customers have been posting about not being able to use their scanners when their ink is low, the complaint said.

In one response, a Canon representative said "there is no workaround for this," according to the complaint.

The lawsuit accused Canon of breach of express warranty, unjust enrichment, and several New York laws. Leacraft is represented by Mark S. Reich and Courtney E. Maccarone, attorneys with Levi & Korsinsky LLP.

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Southwest wins preliminary injunction against flight website Kiwi to stop it from posting the airline’s fares

Southwest Heart One
A crew member boarding a Southwest plane. The injunction stops Kiwi.com from selling the airline's flights.
  • Southwest was granted a preliminary injunction, stopping Kiwi.com from displaying its fares.
  • A judge said Kiwi.com caused "damage to [Southwest's] reputation and loss of goodwill."
  • The injunction was the "whole nine yards," a lawyer for Southwest said.

A federal judge granted Southwest Airlines a preliminary injunction against Kiwi.com, stopping the discount-ticket website from posting the airline's fares.

"Kiwi breached [Southwest's] Terms by scraping Southwest flight data and fare from Southwest's website, presenting Southwest flight data on kiwi.com, and selling Southwest flights without authorization," Ada Brown, US district judge, wrote in an order dated September 30.

The injunction stops Kiwi.com from scraping fare data, displaying tickets, and selling Southwest flights - it's the "whole nine yards," a spokesperson for Southwest's law firm, Munck Wilson Mandala, told Insider via email.

Southwest sued Kiwi.com in January in US District Court in the Northern District of Texas, saying the website breached the terms of Southwest's website by scraping fare and flight information.

"As detailed in Southwest's request for a preliminary injunction, Kiwi.com improperly inflates Southwest fares and engages in other conduct that harms both Southwest and its customers," a Southwest spokesperson said via email on Friday.

He added, "Southwest is pleased that Judge Brown has ordered Kiwi.com to stop these unauthorized activities until this matter reaches a final decision."

The injunction will remain in effect until a decision at trial or another court motion.

Brown wrote that Kiwi.com had "caused Southwest to suffer damages, including damage to its reputation and loss of goodwill from customer complaints and increased customer service burdens and disruption to operations."

Southwest is also in an ongoing legal battle with Skiplagged, another travel search site. The airline in previous court filings had sought details about the relationship between Skiplagged and Kiwi.com.

Southwest is "no stranger" to suing search engines and other sites that are displaying its fares, wrote Jeffrey Neuburger, co-head of law firm Proskauer Rose LLP's Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group, in a blog post.

"What made this result particularly notable is that the preliminary injunction is based on the likelihood of success on the merits of Southwest's breach of contract claim and Kiwi's alleged violation of Southwest's site terms," Neuburger wrote.

Kiwi.com didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company has told Insider in recent interviews that it was unreasonable for Southwest to claim it had broken the airline's website's terms of service.

In July, a Kiwi.com spokesperson told Insider: "Southwest makes its flight and fare data publicly available to the entire internet, and it cannot legitimately prevent fare competition and price comparisons through enforcement of its browsewrap terms of use, to which Kiwi.com never agreed in any event."

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Donald Trump fights valuation on Park Avenue retail space, saying the property is being overtaxed when compared with similar buildings

Trump's 502 Park Avenue building under a blue sky
Traffic in front of the Trump Park Avenue building in Manhattan.
  • Former President Donald Trump's real estate company is fighting the valuation of Trump Park Avenue.
  • The building's retail space has been overvalued compared with similar properties, the company said.
  • The assessed value of the building's commercial space increased by about 1% in 2021-2022 tax year.

Former President Donald Trump's real estate company is fighting the property tax assessment on its Trump Park Avenue retail space, saying in part that its valuation is too high compared with similar properties.

Trump's property at 502 Park Avenue has been assigned "excessive, unequal, erroneous, unlawful and illegal assessments," the company said in a six-page petition filed on Thursday in New York State Supreme Court.

The petition was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The assessed value of the building's commercial space increased about 1%, climbing $112,347, for the 2021-2022 tax year, according to New York tax records.

Its total market value was assessed for the year at $12,238,099, up from $12,125,752 the prior tax year, according to records.

But its market value had been higher in the 2019-2020 tax year, at $12,285,788, according to records. It had increased in both of the tax years prior to that.

The property's market value is "excessive" because the "assessed valuation exceeds the full value of the real property," or the "sum for which the said real property would sell under ordinary circumstances," said the filing, which included Eric Trump as petitioner.

Trumps' New York petition came a few weeks after Illinois officials lowered the taxes on the company's Chicago tower by about 30%, in part because the building's commercial space has had trouble finding tenants.

Trump's company reportedly holds more than $2 billion in real estate in major US cities, including a minority stake in a San Francisco office tower. Between 2016 and 2020, Trump's DC hotel lost more than $70 million, according to an audit released by a House committee on Friday.

Trump's NY properties were reportedly being scrutinized earlier this year as part of an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

The company's Park Avenue property is largely residential.

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A man suing 7 airlines plans to accuse them of a ‘conspiracy to interfere with civil rights’ – and says more people are joining his lawsuit

JetBlue planes are seen from above on a tarmac in Arizona in an interlocked pattern
The lawsuit against multiple airlines was filed in June.
  • A frequent flier suing seven airlines plans to broaden his lawsuit with new plaintiffs.
  • Lucas Wall said he plans on Monday to file an amended complaint with about 10 new plaintiffs.
  • Additional charges will include including "conspiracy to interfere with civil rights," he said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A frequent flier suing seven US airlines said he plans to file an amended complaint on Monday, which will add multiple plaintiffs to his lawsuit over the airlines' mask requirements.

Lucas Wall, of Washington DC, said via email on Friday that he planned to add new charges against the airlines, including "conspiracy to interfere with civil rights."

Wall had previously told Insider: "It will be a stronger case with multiple plaintiffs showing the wide-ranging discrimination in the airline industry."

The lawsuit was filed June in US District Court in Orlando against Southwest, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit. Wall, who is representing himself, also has an ongoing lawsuit against the Biden administration.

Wall, in his original complaint against the airlines, claimed each had discriminated against those who couldn't wear masks for medical reasons, including himself. In his initial court filings, he included his medical records for generalized anxiety disorder.

In conversations with Insider, several people who were expected to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs claimed they'd had experiences similar to Wall's.

"The disabled are being criminalized during the pandemic - attacked, harassed, and blamed," said Shannon Cila, of Kentucky, in an interview on Thursday.

Cila said her involvement with the case began after she was arrested in Kentucky while protesting pandemic measures including masks mandates. The arrest rattled her, she said.

"That set me up for a lot of anxiety, with having to deal with these mask exemptions, non-exemption policies, with private businesses everywhere, including airlines," she said. "If you have an invisible disability, people look at you. They think because you're not on an oxygen tank, or something - they can't tell what your problem might be."

Cila found Wall through his GoFundMe campaign, she said.

Uriel ben-Mordechai and his wife, Adi, planned to join the lawsuit, he said on Friday. He moved to Israel about four decades ago, but regularly flies back to the Bay Area and Southern California to visit family.

A Torah scholar and lecturer, ben-Mordechai said his decision to join Wall's lawsuit was in part driven by his faith. He said he looked to Deuteronomy 16:20, part of which translates to "justice, pursue justice."

"It tells you, you have to make justice happen and it's not going to happen unless you do the part that God is giving you to do," ben-Mordechai said in a phone interview from Israel.

Leonardo McDonnell, another traveller seeking to join Wall's lawsuit, was more forceful in his language. "I will sue these sick tyrants' granddaughters if the legal system lets me," McDonnell, of Florida, said in an email when Insider reached out to him.

The airlines in late August filed their initial responses to Wall's lawsuit. Each one sought to dismiss the case on technical grounds, saying in part that Wall didn't have the standing to sue them in federal court under the Air Carrier Access Act.

Some legal experts and academics said they have doubts about whether the wave of lawsuits over federal mask requirements will put an end to Biden's mandate, although they weren't asked specifically about Wall's case.

Others said there were flaws in the Biden administration's argument that the mask mandates were not unconstitutional.

Paul Engel, founder of The Constitution Study, an online guide to the constitution, said the federal mandates were unconstitutional for a few reasons. The Fifth Amendment, for example, requires "due process of law," he said.

"[G]overnments at all levels are prohibited from enforcing mask mandates until they have shown probable cause that the individual is a danger to others," Engel said via email.

Monday is Wall's deadline for filing an amended complaint.

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Anti-maskers are filing a wave of lawsuits against the CDC. Here’s why experts say their chances of victory are low.

A man in a mask stands under the curved terminal ceiling at John Wayne Airport in California
Masked travelers at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California.
  • Lawsuits attacking the constitutionality of masks are unlikely to succeed, legal experts said.
  • A wave of lawsuits have been filed against the Biden administration and local governments.
  • They were "exceedingly unlikely" to end the mask mandates, said Brendan Beery, a law professor.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A wave of lawsuits seeking to put an end to local, state, or federal mask mandates have hit US courts, but attorneys and legal scholars mostly say they're fighting an uphill battle.

"Those challenging mask mandates would likely argue that the federal government lacks the power to impose them," said Brendan Beery, a law professor at Western Michigan University. "But there are two areas where the federal government is explicitly authorized to regulate under the Constitution: federal property and interstate commerce."

As such, the federal mask mandates put in place after President Joe Biden's January executive order requiring travelers to wear masks would likely stand up to legal challenges, Beery said.

Legal challenges to masks have been filed in federal courts around the US. One plaintiff has filed lawsuits in both Indiana and Michigan.

The Biden administration has defended the mandates, saying in a filing in Florida court last month that they weren't unconstitutional.

Such mandates are "one of the basic tradeoffs of living in a society, with a government that is authorized to make policy choices that individual citizens may not support," lawyers for the Department of Justice wrote.

Insider spoke with a handful of attorneys and academics about the prospects of anti-mask lawsuits. The conversations were general and not related to any specific case.

Each person Insider spoke to used the word "unlikely" to describe the probability that one or more of the lawsuits would eventually remove federal mask mandates.

Beery, for example, said the lawsuits were "exceedingly unlikely" to make a difference. Others said they were "highly unlikely" to do so.

"It's rather unlikely these lawsuits will change federal mandates," said Minesh Patel, a founder and attorney at The Patel Firm, "because doing so would undermine the common-sense interpretations of certain public health statues."

Mask mandates are supported by scientists at governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have both said that masks help stop the spread of COVID-19. They've both recommended that people who are fully vaccinated should continue wearing masks in areas with high transmission rates, including planes.

The Transportation Security Administration in August extended mask mandates through January 2022.

Collen Clark, lawyer and founder of Schmidt & Clark, said it was "highly unlikely" that those mask mandates would be eliminated through legal action from anti-maskers.

"The constitution has ultimately no problem whatsoever with the implementation of federal mask mandates," Clark said via email.

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Texas AG sues 6 school districts over mask mandates as almost 100 districts defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order to ban them

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton waves in a suit in front of an oversized American flag
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
  • Texas AG Ken Paxton on Friday said he sued six school districts for defying a ban on mask mandates.
  • In a statement, Paxton accused the districts of "unlawful political maneuvering."
  • One district said it would "allow the courts to decide the merits of the case," UPI reported.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday sued six school districts, saying their mask mandates defied a statewide ban.

"Not only are superintendents across Texas openly violating state law, but they are using district resources - that ought to be used for teacher merit raises or other educational benefits - to defend their unlawful political maneuvering," Paxton said in a statement on Friday.

The districts were in violation of both the Texas Disaster Act and an executive order signed by Governor Greg Abbott in July, Paxton said. That executive order banned mask mandates put in place by state or local governments, with exemptions for hospitals and the criminal justice system.

Paxton's office also published a list of almost 100 school districts and other government entities that it said were defying Abbott's ban. Paxton said another round of lawsuits might be filed against other districts.

The six school districts sued on Friday - Richardson, Round Rock, Galveston, Elgin, Spring, and Sherman - were each hit with a lawsuit, Paxton said.

Officials with the Spring district said they would "allow the courts to decide the merits of the case." They added that they only knew about the lawsuit because of Paxton's press statement, UPI reported.

In his statement, Paxton said the school districts should spend their money on education, not fighting statewide policies.

He said: "If districts choose to spend their money on legal fees, they must do so knowing that my office is ready and willing to litigate these cases. I have full confidence that the courts will side with the law - not acts of political defiance."

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