Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries
SAVE OUR SKIES LA V. FAA, ET AL
The two procedures at issue are the HARYS FOUR departure procedure at Van Nuys Airport, and the SLAPP TWO departure procedure at Burbank Airport. Petitioner contends that the FAA failed to sufficiently analyze the procedures, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), the Administrative Procedure Act, and section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1996. The key issue is the timeliness of Petitioner’s challenges. Petitions for review of FAA orders must be filed within 60 days after the order was issued, or where there are “reasonable grounds” to excuse a delay in filing. 49 U.S.C. Section 46110(a). The Ninth Circuit denied in part and dismissed in part the petition for review brought by an association of nearby residents challenging the FAA orders. The panel held that the statutory “reasonable grounds” exception did not apply. A petitioner’s own mistake cannot excuse its delay in filing. The panel further held that the FAA’s alleged violative conduct did not toll the statute of limitations for filing the petition. Petitioner cannot circumvent the strict time limits imposed by section 46110 simply by invoking the Administrative Procedure Act. The panel concluded that the petition of review of HARYS ONE and SLAPP ONE was untimely, and it dismissed the petition for review insofar as it challenged those orders. View "SAVE OUR SKIES LA V. FAA, ET AL" on Justia Law
Day v. SkyWest Airlines
Kelly Day appealed the district court’s dismissal of the diversity action she filed against SkyWest Airlines for personal injuries she allegedly sustained when a SkyWest flight attendant carelessly struck her with a beverage cart. The district court granted SkyWest’s motion to dismiss the action as preempted under the Airline Deregulation Act (“ADA”), which preempted state laws “related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier.” The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concurred with sister circuits that personal-injury claims arising out of an airline employee’s failure to exercise due care were not “related to” a deregulated price, route, or service. Therefore, the Court reversed the district court’s dismissal of Day’s action and remanded for further proceedings. View "Day v. SkyWest Airlines" on Justia Law
Frey v. Town of Jackson, WY, et al.
As Plaintiff William Frey proceeded through the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) checkpoint at Jackson Hole Airport in Teton County, Wyoming, the body scanner alerted TSA screeners to a potentially suspicious area on Plaintiff’s person. When the security screeners informed Plaintiff that they would have to conduct a pat down, Plaintiff became agitated and repeatedly refused to cooperate. So the security screeners summoned a police officer, Defendant Nathan Karnes, who arrested Plaintiff. After being transported to the Teton County Jail for booking, Plaintiff continued his noncooperation, refusing to participate in the booking process and demanding that jail officials allow him to have an attorney present. Jail officials detained Plaintiff for about three hours before releasing him. Plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law, alleging many violations of his rights. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s federal claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, denied leave to file a second amended complaint, declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims, awarded attorney’s fees to the Municipal Defendants, and sanctioned Plaintiff’s attorneys. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that some of his claims should have survived dismissal, that the district court should have permitted him to add some of his new proposed claims in a second amended complaint, and that the district court should not have awarded any attorney’s fees. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Frey v. Town of Jackson, WY, et al." on Justia Law
Ilczyszyn v. Southwest Airlines Co.
Southwest Airlines passenger Ilczyszyn suffered a massive pulmonary embolism while locked inside an airplane lavatory during the final stages of a flight from Oakland to Orange County. Rather than treating Ilczyszyn’s circumstances as a medical emergency, the flight crew perceived him to be a security threat; he did not receive medical care until after the flight had landed and the other passengers had disembarked. By then, he had gone into cardiac arrest. Although he was resuscitated, he later died in a hospital.A jury found that Southwest was negligent but found against the plaintiffs on the issue of causation. The court of appeal affirmed. The trial court properly found that Southwest was immune from liability under both 49 U.S.C. 44941 (Aviation and Transportation Security Act), and Civil Code section 47(b) for any act or omission occurring after the flight crew decided to treat Ilczyszyn’s medical emergency as a security threat. The court rejected arguments that these statutory immunities apply only to the actual disclosure of a security threat, not to conduct associated with such disclosures, and that the immunity is inapplicable here because the gravamen of their case was based solely on the flight crew’s negligent failure to identify the medical emergency. View "Ilczyszyn v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law
City of Scottsdale, Arizona v. FAA
The city of Scottsdale, Arizona filed a petition challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of certain east-bound flight paths out of the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, claiming the flights resulted in injury to the city because planes flying along those routes produce noise and pollution on property that the city owns.The D.C. Circuit denied Scottsdale's petition, holding that, while this is the type of harm that could confer standing, Scottsdale was unable to identify evidence proving the city suffered actual harm. The City presented no evidence of increased noise or pollution. View "City of Scottsdale, Arizona v. FAA" on Justia Law
Ydil Pham v. NTSB
Petitioner is an experienced airline pilot. When he was interviewing for a new position, he was asked to take a urine test. Unable to provide an adequate sample, Petitioner left the site. Under FAA guidelines, walking out before providing a drug test sample is considered a refusal. The potential employer reported Petitioner's refusal to the FAA. The FAA sought to revoke Petitioner's pilot and medical certifications. However, at a hearing in front of the National Safety Transportation Board, the Board agreed with the FAA in sustaining the refusal, but reduced Petitioner's sanction to a 180-suspension.The D.C. Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, finding that by walking out before providing a sufficient urine sample, Petitioner's conduct was properly considered a refusal. In so holding, the court noted that the trial court credited the FAA witnesses while questioning the veracity of Petitioner's testimony.The D.C. Circuit also granted the FAA's cross-petition, finding that the Board was required to defer to the FAA under these circumstances. View "Ydil Pham v. NTSB" on Justia Law
Fleming v. Cirrus Design Corp.
Cirrus petitioned for inter partes review of a patent that describes ballistic parachute systems that use a rocket to deploy a parachute, slowing the fall of a crashing aircraft. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board determined that the challenged claims are unpatentable as obvious over a combination of Cirrus Design’s Pilot Operation Handbook (POH) and the James patent. The POH describes the operation of a ballistic parachute system installed on the Cirrus SR22 airplane. The James patent, titled “Semiautonomous Flight Director,” describes a “device for programming industry-standard autopilots” to allow “for the safe operation of any aircraft by an unskilled pilot. The Board determined that proposed amended claims lacked written description.The Federal Circuit affirmed. The determination that the ordinarily skilled artisan would program James’s autonomous system to perform the claimed flight maneuvers suggested by POH is the result of a faithful application of precedent on obviousness, including a directive to consider the creativity of the ordinarily skilled artisan. That the prior art cautioned pilots not to use autopilot in some emergency situations on some aircraft does not mean that the skilled artisan would have been dissuaded from doing so in all emergency situations on all aircraft. Substantial evidence supports the finding of lack of written description. View "Fleming v. Cirrus Design Corp." on Justia Law
Cavalieri v. Avior Airlines C.A.
Plaintiffs purchased tickets for Defendant’s commercial flights from Miami to Venezuela. Plaintiffs allege that their ticket prices reflected the “fully-paid contract” and that Defendant failed to sufficiently disclose any other fees required for passage. When checking in for their flights at the airport, however, Defendant informed Plaintiffs that they had to pay an additional $80 “Exit Fee” before being allowed to board their flights. Plaintiffs filed a breach of contract putative class action.The district court dismissed the suit, concluding that the Airline Deregulation Act preempted Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim because it related to the price of the airline ticket and the Act’s preemption provision identifies actions relating to price as preempted. The Eleventh Circuit reversed, first holding that the Plaintiffs plausibly alleged facts that would establish diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim seeks merely to enforce the parties’ private agreements regarding the cost of passage and does not invoke state laws or regulations to alter the agreed-upon price. The statute, 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1), provides: “[A] State . . . may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier..” The suit falls within the category of cases protected from preemption by Supreme Court precedent. View "Cavalieri v. Avior Airlines C.A." on Justia Law
Erwin v. Federal Aviation Administration
The DC Circuit remanded to the FAA for it to consider the evidence petitioner provided and to make the explicit "why and wherefore" of its action. In this case, after petitioner, a commercial airline pilot with a diagnosed alcohol dependence, tested positive for alcohol, the FAA withdrew his medical certification required for flight. Petitioner requested reconsideration of the FAA's decision with documentation to demonstrate that the positive test was due to unknowing exposure to alcohol. View "Erwin v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law
Earl v. Boeing Company
The Fifth Circuit granted defendants' motion for a stay of discovery in this class action lawsuit while the court reviews their appeal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). Boeing and Southwest were sued for allegedly conspiring to conceal design defects in Boeing's 737 MAX 8 aircraft and thus defrauding airline ticket purchasers. After considering the Nken factors, the court concluded that Boeing and Southwest have made a strong showing that the court is likely to reverse the class-certification decision because they raised substantial predominance questions regarding damages. Furthermore, defendants have also made a strong showing regarding irreparable harm; plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that they or any other parties will be irreparably injured by delaying further discovery until the conclusion of the Rule 23(f) appeal; and the public interest supports staying district court proceedings to avoid potentially wasteful and unnecessary litigation costs where, as here, defendants have shown a substantial likelihood of success on appeal. View "Earl v. Boeing Company" on Justia Law