Angel Flight Flap
Angel Flight Georgia (AFGA) has won a court battle for exclusive use of the name Angel Flight in the Southeast after a judge ruled that Florida-based Angel Flight Southeast (AFSE), which is not affiliated with the Georgia group, had not only inappropriately taken the name but had exploited the confusion that resulted from having two similarly named volunteer pilot organizations operating in the same general area. In his Nov. 20 ruling, U.S. District Judge Jack Camp says AFSE siphoned donation money away from AFGA by contacting known supporters of AFGA (gleaned from an AFGA pamphlet) and asking for donations without drawing a distinction between the two groups. “The record evidences that AFSE has intended for the public to be confused and to benefit from that confusion,” Camp wrote. “AFSE contacted AFGA donors that AFSE would not have normally contacted due to the donors’ size and location, except that they were known AFGA donors who could be expected to donate to 'Angel Flight.'” Neither AFGA nor AFSE officials returned AVweb's phone and e-mail messages requesting comment. Angel Flight Georgia began offering free flights to those in need of medical care in 1983. It has arranged flights in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. Sometime after that, Angel Flight Southeast started up in Florida, covering the same territory. The two groups cooperated and even worked together until 2000, when AFSE joined a national umbrella organization called Angel Flight America, which was also named in the suit. AFGA didn’t join the national group. It was shortly after that the conflicts arose. AFGA filed its suit in 2003 and AFSE and AFA filed counterclaims, which were dismissed in the November ruling. In the ruling, Judge Camp noted that AFGA wasn’t looking to recover any lost income from the defendants. It just wanted them to use another name. The defendants claimed that changing their names would cost them as much as $6 million, a claim Judge Camp said they failed to prove. It’s not known if AFSE and AFA will appeal the ruling, but neither has changed its name on their respective Web sites.