Jetsgo launches lawsuit against WestJet, executives

Jetsgo files lawsuit against WestJet Airlines, its co-founder Clive Beddoe and former vice-president Mark Hill

Jetsgo on Friday said it has filed a lawsuit against WestJet Airlines, its co-founder Clive Beddoe and former vice-president Mark Hill, and is seeking at least $50 million.

The suit alleges that "...WestJet, Beddoe and Hill conspired together and determined to commence an unlawful campaign with the specific purpose of injuring Jetsgo, its business and reputation."

Jetsgo said Friday that it is seeking unspecified damages for intentional interference, along with $25 million for spoliation – the destruction of evidence – and $25 million for punitive and exemplary damages, plus legal costs.

Jetsgo alleges that Hill, acting with the knowledge and direction of Beddoe, instructed agents working for WestJet to attempt to surreptitiously obtain Jetsgo information.

The information at the heart of the suit is a Jetsgo summary of domestic load factors. The lawsuit also alleges that WestJet used the Jetsgo information to "gain an unfair competitive advantage over Jetsgo and prey upon Jetsgo's business and operations by targeting both profitable and vulnerable routes, flight times and fares."

WestJet said Jetsgo's claim is ill-founded and will not succeed.

"WestJet believes that this lawsuit is a transparent attempt by Jetsgo to leverage its own profile through the existing dispute between WestJet and Air Canada," the company said. "These attacks in the courts by its competitors are a powerful acknowledgment of WestJet's continued success in the marketplace." WestJet denied that any of its actions caused Jetsgo to suffer losses.

The claims in the lawsuit have yet to be proven in court.

Jetsgo wants a court order barring WestJet from using the document, and is also seeking permission for a search of the property of WestJet, Beddoe and Hill to hunt for any other Jetsgo documents.

The Jetsgo suit launched Friday against WestJet has its origins in a separate legal fight between Air Canada and WestJet.

After learning that a digital reconstruction of a shredded Jetsgo document had been found in the trash of Hill by investigators hired by Air Canada, Jetsgo CEO Michel Leblanc asked for the document to be returned. Air Canada returned it to Jetsgo earlier this month.

Leblanc found out about the document via court filings in a lawsuit alleging corporate espionage, filed by Air Canada against Hill, WestJet and others at the airline.

Hill quit WestJet in July after Air Canada sued the airline over allegations he and another worker used an Air Canada employee website to get access to flight scheduling information. Air Canada is suing WestJet for $220 million in damages.

WestJet shares dropped just over 4 per cent on Friday, falling 51 cents to end at $11.99 on the TSX.