Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries
Rojas v. FAA
Plaintiff filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974, seeking FAA records related to the Biographical Assessment, a screening tool introduced by the FAA in 2014 as part of the air traffic controller hiring process. The panel affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FAA based on Exemption 2 of FOIA and Exemption (k)(6) of the Privacy Act, which allowed the FAA to withhold from plaintiff the minimum passing score and plaintiff's own score on the Biographical Assessment. Where FAA employees used personal email addresses to receive information relating to the FAA's change in selecting air traffic controllers, the panel held that plaintiff has carried his burden of showing that the FAA employees' privacy interest in their personal email addresses was outweighed by the robust interest of citizens' right to know what their government was up to in making the changes it did. The court also held that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Exemption 6 does not apply to the personal email addresses of the recipients of the Barrier Analysis document containing FAA information relating to the selection of air traffic controllers. The panel reasoned that the FAA could satisfy its obligation under FOIA by identifying the email recipients by name, instead of revealing the recipients' personal email addresses. In regard to 202 emails withheld by the FAA as agency records, the panel vacated the district court's order and remanded to the district court to apply the second prong of the test set forth in Tax Analysts v. U.S. Dep't of Justice. View "Rojas v. FAA" on Justia Law
Kashem v. Barr
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging both their inclusion on the No Fly List and the sufficiency of the procedures available for contesting their inclusion on the list. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government and held that the district court properly rejected plaintiffs' as-applied vagueness challenges. The panel held that the No Fly List criteria are not impermissibly vague merely because they require a prediction of future criminal conduct or because they do not delineate what factors are relevant to that determination. Rather, the criteria are reasonably clear in their application to the specific conduct alleged in this case, which includes, for one or more plaintiffs, associating with and financing terrorists, training with militant groups overseas, and advocating terrorist violence. The panel weighed the Mathews v. Eldridge factors and held that the procedures provided to the plaintiffs were constitutionally sufficient and any error was nonprejudicial. Finally, the panel held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' substantive due process claims for lack of jurisdiction under 49 U.S.C. 46110(a), which places review of TSA orders in the courts of appeals rather than the district court. View "Kashem v. Barr" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Riggs v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting motions to remand to state court. AHI contended that it properly removed this case to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Plaintiffs had filed suit in state court against the helicopter owners, the Hecker Defendants, and the manufacturer, AHI, after John Udall died in a helicopter crash while touring the Grand Canyon. The panel held that the district court committed no error in finding that AHI was not "acting under" a federal officer by virtue of becoming an FAA-certified Designation holder with authority to issue Supplemental Certificates. In this case, AHI inspected and certified its aircraft pursuant to FAA regulations and federal law and could not make any structural or design changes without the consent of the FAA. The panel joined the Seventh Circuit in concluding that an aircraft manufacturer does not act under a federal officer when it exercises designated authority to certify compliance with governing federal regulations. View "Riggs v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc." on Justia Law
US Airways, Inc. v. Sabre Holdings Corp.
US Airways filed suit against Sabre, alleging violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, with respect to travel technology platforms provided by Sabre that are used in connection with the purchase and sale of tickets for US Airways flights. Sabre appealed the district court's denial of its post‐trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative a new trial, on Count 1 based largely in part on a recent Supreme Court decision, Ohio v. American Express Co., 138 S. Ct. 2274 (2018) (Amex II). US Airways cross-appealed, contending that Counts 2 and 3 of its complaint were erroneously dismissed. The Second Circuit held that the district court did not—as Amex II now requires in cases involving two‐sided transaction platforms like Sabre—instruct the jury that the relevant market must include both sides of the platform as a matter of law. Therefore, the court could not affirm the judgment of the district court based on the pre‐Amex II verdict of the jury. However, the court held, based on the evidence that was before the jury at the time it rendered its verdict, that under instructions consistent with Amex II, the jury could have rendered (not would have been required to render) a proper verdict in favor of US Airways on Count 1. The court also concluded that the district court correctly limited US Airwaysʹs damages following Sabreʹs motion for summary judgment, but was incorrect in its judgment to dismiss Counts 2 and 3 of US Airwaysʹs complaint. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "US Airways, Inc. v. Sabre Holdings Corp." on Justia Law
Exhaustless Inc. v. FAA
Exhaustless petitioned for review of the FAA's latest interim orders limiting the number of flights serving LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports in New York and seeking implementation of Exhaustless's patent-pending product to manage the allocation of takeoff and landing slots to airlines. The DC Circuit dismissed the petitions based on lack of standing, holding that the company failed to demonstrate that vacating the interim FAA orders would redress its injury—i.e., a lack of market opportunity for its product. Furthermore, vacating the interim orders would leave takeoffs and landings at the airports unregulated, eliminating the need for the company's product at the federal level. To the extent that Exhaustless argued that the local airport authority could employ its product if there were no federal regulation, the court found any such possibility too speculative to support standing. View "Exhaustless Inc. v. FAA" on Justia Law
Corbett v. Transportation Security Administration
Petitioner brought a third challenge to the TSA's airport scanner equipment using advanced imaging technology (AIT). Petitioner challenged the TSA's latest policies and orders that require certain airline passengers to pass through AIT scanners, eliminating for them the option of being screened by a physical pat-down. The Eleventh Circuit held that it was without jurisdiction to entertain petitioner's claims, because petitioner lacked the necessary standing to bring the petition. The court held that petitioner failed to establish that he suffered an injury in fact, that is, the invasion of a judicially cognizable interest that is concrete and particularized and actual and imminent. In this case, petitioner has never said that he was subjected to the mandatory TSA policy, before his petition or since then, even though he has made numerous filings since he lodged his petition for review containing substantial information about his travel patterns and his interactions with TSA. View "Corbett v. Transportation Security Administration" on Justia Law
Kornitzky Group, LLC v. Elwell
Petitioners sought review of the National Transportation Safety Board's decision revoking their air agency certificate. The DC Circuit upheld the Board's determination concerning petitioners' performance of maintenance without the appropriate technical data. However, the court set aside the Board's intentional-falsification charge, because the Board departed from its own precedents when considering whether petitioners had acted with the requisite knowledge. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review in part and vacated the Board's revocation of petitioners' air agency certificate. The court vacated the sanction imposed by the Board and remanded for further consideration. View "Kornitzky Group, LLC v. Elwell" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Government & Administrative Law, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority v. Tong
Tweed, seeking to expand its primary runway, filed suit to invalidate a Connecticut statute that had limited the runway's length. As a preliminary matter, the Second Circuit held that Tweed had Article III standing because it established an injury in fact, the injury was caused by the Runway Statute, and a favorable decision will likely redress Tweed's fear of the statute's enforcement. The court joined the Fifth and Tenth Circuits in holding that a subdivision may sue its state under the Supremacy Clause. Therefore, Tweed, as a political subdivision of Connecticut, may bring suit against Connecticut. On the merits, the court held that the Runway Statute was preempted by the Federal Aviation Act where the Act's preemption applies to airport runways and the Runway Statute falls within the scope of that preemption. Furthermore, Congress intended the Act to occupy the entire field of air safety including runway length. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of Tweed. View "Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority v. Tong" on Justia Law
Miller v. Southwest Airlines Co.
Under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, before obtaining any fingerprint, a “private entity” must provide the subject or “the subject’s legally authorized representative” with certain written information and obtain the consent of the subject or authorized representative, 740 ILCS 14/15(b). The private entity must make available to the public a protocol for retaining and handling biometric data and follow rules regarding the destruction of the data. Private entities must protect biometric information from disclosure. Both Southwest and United Airlines maintain timekeeping systems that require workers to clock in and out with their fingerprints. Plaintiffs contend that the airlines implemented these systems in violation of the Act. The airlines contend that the plaintiffs’ unions consented. Plaintiffs argued that a judge should resolve their contentions. The airlines claimed that resolution belongs to an adjustment board under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151–88, which applies to air carriers. The Seventh Circuit held that dispute about the interpretation or administration of a collective bargaining agreement must be resolved by an adjustment board under the RLA. Unions in the air transportation business are the workers’ exclusive bargaining agents. Illinois cannot and did not remove a topic from the union’s purview. Its statute provides that a worker or an authorized agent may receive necessary notices and provide consent. Whether the unions did consent or grant authority through a management-rights clause, is a question for an adjustment board. View "Miller v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Labor & Employment Law, Transportation Law, US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Horner v. American Airlines, Inc.
This action arose from a dispute over the integration of former TWA pilots into American Airlines' pilot seniority lists. Former TWA pilots filed suit against American and its union under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), seeking to vacate an arbitration award and enjoin its implementation. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that former TWA pilots lacked standing to challenge the arbitration award. The court held that Mitchell v. Continental Airlines was controlling in this case and that an individual grievant generally lacks standing to challenge the results of a binding arbitration process where a union has the sole authority to compel arbitration under a CBA formed pursuant to the RLA. The court also held that, to the extent the union permitted modifications to the CBA's grievance and arbitration proceedings, this was not arbitrary, discriminatory, or evidence of bad faith. View "Horner v. American Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law