Ryanair awarded €250,000 after anonymous Twitter terror threat
Airline identifies anonymous user as Brian Lake and secures damages against him
Ryanair said it will pursue any ‘anonymous social media offenders through the courts’.
Ryanair is taking two further actions against people who posted threats against the airline on Twitter in 2016.
The actions against people believed to be based in the US are set to follow a case heard in the Pennsylvania courts which saw the airline awarded $284,148 (€248,889) in damages against a man who posted an anonymous bomb threat against Ryanair on Twitter last year.
The airline took the case after a Twitter user, who was initially identified with the handle @GunnexGod, wrote: “Hello @Ryanair, you have 15 minutes before I commit the biggest terror attack the UK has ever seen on one of your planes. Be ready”.
In an indication of how seriously Ryanair viewed the threats, it spent in excess of $32,000 on legal fees in California to obtain subpoenas from Twitter which ultimately helped them to identify the person behind the threats as Brian Lake from, Pennsylvania
At a hearing in June, the court was told that Mr Lake had ignored all attempts to make contact with him and that he had failed to engage either with the airline or the courts throughout the entire process.
“At this point the court has received no information has no contacts no phone calls no letters nothing whatsoever from Mr Lake? Has the plaintiff had any contact with Mr Lake whatsoever?” Judge Maureen Kelly asked Ryanair’s legal team, to which the response was negative.
“Ryanair made, through counsel, “made several attempts to reach out to the defendant to no avail, they were not able to get any cooperation from Mr Lake,” Ryanair’s solicitor Kara Eaton said.
The court heard that in total there were three threats posted by different posters targeting the airline. When Judge Kelly asked if the other two posters been identified, Ms Eaton said she believed that they had been identified and were being dealt with elsewhere.
When Judge Kelly asked what evidence Ryanair was relying in the Pennsylvania case Ms Eaton said “I think we will rely on the post itself and the fact that the defendant failed to cooperate with us has never responded and has ignored proceedings today.”
In the ruling in the US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania Judge Kelly awarded the airline $284,148 in damages, including punitive damages.
A Ryanair’s spokesman welcomed the ruling and said it would not allow anyone to threaten the safety of its customers, people and aircraft.
We will pursue any “anonymous social media offenders through the courts,” he said.