CHICAGO - Three former college students are suing Hooters Air, claiming the startup carrier used their business plan from a class project as the blueprint for launching the airline but never compensated them.
The former Southern Illinois University students said Hooters used their "concept, plan and work product" to start the airline in 2003, but never offered them management jobs or a stake in the company, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court.
The men contend they presented a detailed business proposal to a representative from Hooters of America Inc., the airline's parent, who "expressed continuous interest in the project" but ultimately passed on the idea in 1999.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Hooters Air started flying four years later, bearing a strong resemblance to the students' business plan, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiffs claim Hooters Air today mirrors their original business plan, including the airplane logos and the concept of having scantily clad "Hooters Girls" serve beverages on board.