Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries

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Williams International Company LLC designed, manufactured, and serviced small jet engines. Dodson International Parts, Inc., sold new and used aircraft and aircraft parts. After purchasing two used jet engines that had been manufactured by Williams, Dodson contracted with Williams to inspect the engines and prepare an estimate of repair costs, intending to resell the repaired engines. Williams determined that the engines were so badly damaged that they could not be rendered fit for flying, but it refused to return one of the engines because Dodson had not paid its bill in full. Dodson sued Williams in federal court alleging federal antitrust and state-law tort claims. Williams moved to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), relying on an arbitration clause on the original invoices. The district court granted the motion, and the arbitrator resolved all of Dodson’s claims in favor of Williams. Dodson then moved to reconsider the order compelling arbitration and to vacate the arbitrator’s award. The court denied both motions and, construing Williams’s opposition to the motion for vacatur as a request to confirm the award, confirmed the award. Dodson appealed, challenging the district court’s order compelling arbitration and its order confirming the award and denying the motions for reconsideration and vacatur. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed, holding: (1) the claims in Dodson’s federal-court complaint were encompassed by the arbitration clause; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Dodson’s untimely motion to reconsider; and (3) that Dodson failed to establish any grounds for vacatur of the arbitrator’s award or for denial of confirmation of the award. View "Dodson International Parts v. Williams International Company" on Justia Law

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The Texas Workers' Compensation Act (TWCA), Tex. Lab. Code 401.007–419.007, regulates the prices that insurers must pay to providers for various medical services utilized by their beneficiaries, including air transport services. However, those price restrictions conflict with the federal Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), which makes clear that the states "may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision . . . related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier that may provide air transportation under this subpart." 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1).The Fifth Circuit joined its sister circuits, which have unanimously held that the ADA preempts state price caps on air ambulance reimbursements, and that those state price caps are not saved by the McCarran–Ferguson Act. The court disagreed with the Texas Supreme Court, which has reached contrary conclusions by a divided vote. Therefore, in this case, the court affirmed the judgment and held that the TWCA regulations concerning the reimbursement of air ambulance providers like Air Evac are preempted by the ADA, and are not saved by the McCarran–Ferguson Act. View "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs, pilot instructors for United Airlines, filed a class action against the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), their recognized agent for the purpose of collective bargaining, alleging that ALPA had violated its duty of fair representation under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. 151, by adopting a retroactive pay provision that discriminated against pilot instructors.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. To establish a violation of the duty of fair representation, the plaintiffs were required to provide evidence from which a jury could conclude that ALPA’s sole motive in adopting the retroactive pay provision was an illicit one. While the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, could be read to support the proposition that ALPA’s adoption of the formula was motivated in part by animus toward the pilot instructor minority, the question is whether the evidence establishes that ALPA was motivated solely by a desire to discriminate against pilot instructors. There was evidence that some of the motivation for adopting the formula was a desire for a simple formula that could be easily defended. View "Bishop v. Air Line Pilots Association, International" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied Regency Air's petition for review challenging the FAA's decision affirming an ALJ's finding that Regency Air violated regulations requiring air carriers to test each employee for drug and alcohol misuse if performing a safety-sensitive function like plane maintenance.The panel concluded that Regency Air had adequate notice of the dispositive allegations against it, and thus it should have enrolled the first employee in its testing program but failed to do so. The panel also concluded that 14 C.F.R 120.35 and 120.39 are not unconstitutional as applied to the second employee where the employee's concurrent employment, while not addressed in the regulations, unambiguously falls within the regulations' plain text. The panel explained that the FAA chose to promulgate a general rule: if an employee works on an air carrier's planes, the air carrier must enroll the employee in its testing program. The FAA also identified only one narrow exception to this rule, inapplicable here. The panel further concluded that 49 C.F.R. 40.25 is not unconstitutionally vague as to whether Regency Air had to request the second employee's past testing records as an employee. The panel stated that, when an employer hires and becomes obligated to test an employee, it must request past testing records despite the employee's past work on the employer's planes in the scope of other employment. Finally, the panel concluded that the FAA acted within its discretion and established policy in seeking and imposing sanctions against Regency Air. View "Regency Air, LLC v. Dickson" on Justia Law

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Until 2016, the FAA maintained a formal “slot control” system at Newark International Airport, requiring each airline to request a “slot” for each takeoff or landing. The FAA currently announces caps on takeoffs and landings for a given scheduling season. Each airline tells the FAA what flights it wants to operate during the upcoming season. The FAA may either approve an airline’s plan or request that it make changes in order to reduce congestion. An airline is not legally barred from operating unapproved flights/In 2010, the Department of Justice (DoJ) conditioned a merger on United’s transferring 36 slots to Southwest Airlines, a low-fare carrier, new to Newark. For five years, the DoJ resisted United’s attempts to acquire more slots. In 2015 the DoJ sued United for attempted monopolization but United remained Newark's dominant carrier. In 2019 Southwest announced it would pull out of Newark; 16 of its slots were in “peak hours.” Spirit Airlines requested five. The DoJ and the Port Authority cautioned the FAA against retiring Southwest’s slots, to preserve competition.The D.C. Circuit vacated the FAA’s decision to retire the slots. The decision was final because it prevented Spirit from operating as many peak-period flights as it would otherwise have done in Summer 2020 and was arbitrary and capricious because the agency disregarded warnings about the effect of its decision on competition at Newark. View "Spirit Airlines, Inc. v. United States Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order preliminarily enjoining enforcement, against any motor carrier doing business in California, of California's Assembly Bill 5, which codified the judge-made "ABC test" for classifying workers as either employees or independent contractors.After determining that CTA has standing to bring suit, the panel held that application of AB-5 to motor carriers is not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAA), because AB-5 is a generally applicable labor law that affects a motor carrier's relationship with its workforce and does not bind, compel, or otherwise freeze into place the prices, routes, or services of motor carriers. In this case, because CTA is unlikely to succeed on the merits, the district court erred by enjoining the state from enforcing AB5 against motor carriers operating in California. The panel explained that, by failing to follow precedent regarding labor laws of general applicability, the district court committed a legal error to which the panel cannot defer, even at the preliminary-injunction stage. View "California Trucking Ass'n v. Bonta" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case are two provisions of North Dakota Senate Bill 2231. The first prohibits air ambulance providers from directly billing out-of-network insured patients for any amount not paid for by their insurers (the payment provision). The second prohibits air ambulance providers or their agents from selling subscription agreements (the subscription provision).Guardian Flight filed a declaratory judgment action claiming that both provisions are preempted under the Airlines Deregulation Act (ADA). Defendants responded that, even if preempted, the provisions were saved under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The district court concluded that although the ADA preempted both provisions, the McCarran-Ferguson Act saved the subscription provision.The Eighth Circuit agreed with the district court's ADA preemption analysis and concluded that the ADA preempts both the payment provision and the subscription provision. However, the court held that the McCarran-Ferguson Act does not apply because the provisions were not enacted "for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance." Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions. View "Guardian Flight LLC v. Godfread" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the administrative hearing commission (AHC) finding no use tax liability for APLUX LLC and Paul and Ann Lux Associates L.P. on the out-of-state purchase of two aircraft, holding that APLUX was not entitled to resale exemption on the purchase of either aircraft.After purchase, both aircraft - referred to as "the TBM" and "the Excel" - were brought to Missouri. APLUX asserted that it leased, on a non-exclusive basis, the TBM to its parent company, Luxco, Inc., and the Excel concurrently to both Luxco and Aero Charter, Inc. The AHC held that each lease agreement constituted a "sale" for purposes of the tax resale exemption set out in Mo. Rev. Stat. 144.018. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that a "sale" to Luxco did not occur, and therefore, APLUX was not entitled to a resale exemption based on the Luxco agreement. View "APLUX, LLC v. Director of Revenue" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) does not preempt application of California's ABC test, originally set forth in Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903, and eventually codified by Assembly Bill 2257 (AB 2257), to determine whether a federally licensed interstate motor carrier has correctly classified its truck drivers as independent contractors.The court held that defendants have not demonstrated, as they must under People ex rel. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc. (2014) 59 Cal.4th 772, 785-87, that application of the ABC test prohibits motor carriers from using independent contractors or otherwise directly affects motor carriers' prices, routes, or services. Furthermore, nothing in Pac Anchor nor the FAAAA's legislative history suggests Congress intended to preempt a worker-classification test applicable to all employers in the state. The court granted a peremptory writ of mandate directing respondent court to vacate its order granting in part defendants' motion in limine, and enter a new order denying that motion because the statutory amendments implemented by AB 2257 are not preempted by the FAAAA. View "People v. Superior Court (Cal Cartage Transportation Express, LLC)" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a semi-tractor trailer, he filed suit against C.H. Robinson, the freight broker that arranged for the trailer to transport goods for Costco. Plaintiff alleged that C.H. Robinson negligently selected an unsafe motor carrier.The Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that plaintiff's claim is "related to" C.H. Robinson's services, but held that the district court erred in determining that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994's (FAAAA) safety exception does not apply. The panel explained that, in enacting that exception, Congress intended to preserve the States’ broad power over safety, a power that includes the ability to regulate conduct not only through legislative and administrative enactments, but also though common-law damages awards. The panel also held that plaintiff's claim has the requisite "connection with" motor vehicles because it arises out of a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, the negligence claims against brokers, to the extent that they arise out of motor vehicle accidents, have the requisite "connection with" motor vehicles, and thus the safety exception applies to plaintiff's claims against C.H. Robinson. The panel reversed and remanded. View "Miller v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc." on Justia Law