by
Defendant Joseph Lynch, II was a first-class passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to Denver. Defendant had consumed at least six beers prior to boarding, and began behaving in a loud, unruly manner once the flight was underway. He repeatedly placed his hands on first-class flight attendant’s lower back as she was serving him beverages, which made her feel “very uncomfortable,” and she tried to move out of his reach each time. Flight attendants refused to serve defendant any more alcohol during the flight, at which point defendant became “irate” and started shouting obscenities to the cabin crew. Defendant was arrested upon landing; while in custody, he continued shouting expletives. A jury found Defendant guilty of violating 49 U.S.C. 46504, which prohibits the in-flight assault or intimidation of a flight crew member or flight attendant that interferes with his or her duties. He received a sentence of four months, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. On appeal, Defendant challenged the district court’s interpretation of the statute, the constitutionality of the statute, and the length of his sentence. After reviewing the district court’s sentencing decision, the Tenth Circuit found no evidence of error and affirmed defendant’s conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Lynch" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Joseph Lynch, II was a first-class passenger on a flight from Philadelphia to Denver. Defendant had consumed at least six beers prior to boarding, and began behaving in a loud, unruly manner once the flight was underway. He repeatedly placed his hands on first-class flight attendant’s lower back as she was serving him beverages, which made her feel “very uncomfortable,” and she tried to move out of his reach each time. Flight attendants refused to serve defendant any more alcohol during the flight, at which point defendant became “irate” and started shouting obscenities to the cabin crew. Defendant was arrested upon landing; while in custody, he continued shouting expletives. A jury found Defendant guilty of violating 49 U.S.C. 46504, which prohibits the in-flight assault or intimidation of a flight crew member or flight attendant that interferes with his or her duties. He received a sentence of four months, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. On appeal, Defendant challenged the district court’s interpretation of the statute, the constitutionality of the statute, and the length of his sentence. After reviewing the district court’s sentencing decision, the Tenth Circuit found no evidence of error and affirmed defendant’s conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Lynch" on Justia Law

by
Mokdad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, sought injunctive relief against the Attorney General, the FBI, and the Director of the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) based on alleged instances where he was denied boarding on commercial airline flights between the U.S. and his native country, Lebanon. Claiming that his application for redress under the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP) was not adequately resolved, he requested that the court order his removal from the No Fly List and any other such list. The Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s conclusion that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction On remand, TSC re-examined Mokdad’s DHS TRIP request, notified him that he was not on the No Fly List, and issued a declaration that Mokdad is not on the No Fly List and will not be placed back on the list based on the currently available information. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Mokdad’s case is moot in light TSC’s declaration. Even if Mokdad has been placed on another watch list, or is experiencing delays as he alleged, Mokdad did not identify any other lists or defendants, precluding effectual relief. If Mokdad believes that he is on another government list, the remedy is to file a new action. View "Mokdad v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
Flight Options announced that it would merge with Flexjet. The Teamsters Union already represented Options' pilots. Flexjet pilots elected the Teamsters to represent them. The existing Options collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) requires the parties to modify the agreement “to permit the integration” of new pilots within nine months; if they reach an impasse, they must submit to binding arbitration. However, the CBA became “amendable” under the Railway Labor Act after the merger, so that either party could propose broad changes affecting the pilots’ rates of pay and working conditions, 45 U.S.C. 156, by serving a “Section 6” notice. The union served a Section 6 notice before the parties began their CBA negotiations. The airlines maintain that they must resolve their CBA negotiations before turning to the Section 6 proposals. The union argues that both negotiations should happen simultaneously. The union obtained a preliminary injunction ordering the airlines to bargain the Section 6 proposals in good faith. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The district court incorrectly assumed the parties’ dispute over the order of negotiations was “major” under the Act, and, therefore, required good-faith bargaining. Given that the airlines’ claim is consistent with the CBA and the union has failed to identify any contradictory language, the dispute is minor; Whether the terms of the CBA allow the airlines to delay Section 6 negotiations must be determined in arbitration. View "Flight Options, LLC v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 1108" on Justia Law

by
The fact that an aircraft touches down in another state, without more, does not mean that the other state has acquired situs over the aircraft under the traditional due process test for situs, such that California may no longer tax the full value of the aircraft. In this case, the County sought to impose property tax on the full value of six jets used to operate an on-demand "air taxi" service. The Court of Appeal held that substantial evidence supported the Board's ruling that JetSuite failed to prove that any other state acquired situs over the jets at issue in 2010. View "JetSuite v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

by
After plaintiff filed suit against Air Methods for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, Air Methods removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss based on the pre-emption provision of the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(1). The district court relied on Botz v. Omni Air International, 286 F.3d 488 (8thCir. 2002), and dismissed the complaint. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that the ADA did not expressly preempt plaintiff's state-law wrongful-discharge claims involving post hoc reporting of alleged violations of air-safety regulations. To the extent that the court's opinion in Botz held otherwise, the court overruled it. View "Watson v. Air Methods Corp." on Justia Law

by
Doe and her daughter flew aboard Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Chicago. During the journey, Doe’s tray table remained open because a knob had fallen off. Doe’s daughter found the knob on the floor; Doe placed it in a seatback pocket. When a flight attendant reminded Doe to place her tray in the locked position for landing, Doe attempted to explain by reaching into the seatback pocket to retrieve the knob. She was pricked by a hypodermic needle that lay hidden within, which drew blood. Doe sought damages from Etihad for her physical injury and her “mental distress, shock, mortification, sickness and illness, outrage and embarrassment from natural sequela of possible exposure to” various diseases. Her husband claimed loss of consortium. The court granted Etihad partial summary judgment, citing the Montreal Convention of 1999, an international treaty, which imposes capped strict liability “for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft.” The Sixth Circuit reversed. The district court erred in reading an additional “caused by” requirement into the treaty and concluding that Doe’s bodily injury did not cause her emotional and mental injuries. The Convention allows Doe to recover all her “damage sustained” from the incident. View "Doe v. Etihad Airways, P.J.S.C." on Justia Law

by
The City petitioned for review of the FAA's letter, characterizing it as a final order, that addressed the noise complaints stemming from its change of flight routes in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The DC Circuit held that petitioners had reasonable grounds for their delay in filing and reached the merits of their petitions. The court also held that the FAA's approval of the new flight routes was arbitrary and capricious and violated the National Historic Preservation Act because the FAA's failure to notify and provide documentation to the City of the agency’s finding of no adverse impact denied the City its right to participate in the process and object to the findings. The FAA also violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Department of Transportation Act; and the FAA's Order 1050.1E. Accordingly, the court granted the petitions for review, vacated the FAA's September 18, 2014 order implementing the new flight routes and procedures, and remanded. View "Phoenix v. Huerta" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner sought review of the FAA's finding that a new runway project at Hillsboro Airport would have no significant impact on the environment. The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that, in adopting the supplemental environmental assessment, issuing the finding of no significant impact, and concluding that the project at the Hillsboro Airport complied with the requirements of the Airport and Airway Improvement Act, the FAA did not act in a manner that was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. View "Barnes v. FAA" on Justia Law

by
Paul Hudson and the Flyers Rights group petitioned the FAA to promulgate rules governing size limitations for aircraft seats to ensure, among other things, that passengers can safely and quickly evacuate a plane in an emergency. The Administration denied the petition, asserting that seat spacing did not affect the safety or speed of passenger evacuations. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review in part and agreed with Flyers Rights that the Administration failed to provide a plausible evidentiary basis for concluding that decreased seat sizes combined with increased passenger sizes have no effect on emergency egress. However, the court disagreed with Flyers Rights' challenge to the Administration's declination to regulate matters of physical comfort and routine health. In this case, the Administration decided that it should not address those issues at this time, making the very type of regulatory-effort and resource-allocation judgments that fell squarely within the agency's province. The court remanded to the Administration for a properly reasoned disposition of the petition's safety concerns about the adverse impact of decreased seat dimensions and increased passenger size on aircraft emergency egress. View "Flyers Rights Education Fund v. FAA" on Justia Law