Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries

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This case arose out of the FAA and NPS's efforts to regulate commercial sightseeing flights over national parks. The Air Tour Management Act of 2000 directs the FAA and NPS to "make every effort" to establish rules governing such flights within two years of the first application.After determining that it has jurisdiction over this mandamus petition under the All Writs Act, the DC Circuit held that petitioners had associational standing to seek relief. In this case, petitioners' members showed cognizable aesthetic and recreational injury that could be redressed by mandamus relief. On the merits, the court granted a writ of mandate compelling the FAA and NPS to regulate air tours at seven parks where they have injured members. The court analyzed the six TRAC factors and concluded that mandamus relief was warranted here where the agencies have failed to comply with their statutory mandate for the past nineteen years. The court ordered the agencies to produce a schedule within 120 days of the issuance of this opinion for bringing all twenty-three parks into compliance. View "In re: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the Navy Secretary's refusal to grant him a waiver of statutory requirements that govern his eligibility for incentive pay. After determining that plaintiff has abandoned his substantive challenge to the waiver denial, the DC Circuit held that the question of whether the Secretary complied with the process outlined in the applicable regulation is judicially reviewable.On the merits of plaintiff's procedural claim, the court held that nothing in Instruction 7220.87 obligates the Secretary to seek updated endorsements, and plaintiff gave the court no reason to conclude that the Secretary abused his discretion by relying on the old endorsements or by considering plaintiff's performance data. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Secretary. View "Stewart v. McPherson" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit dismissed the State's petition challenging the FAA's amended flight paths to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport as untimely. Although the State acknowledged that its petition was filed well after the statutory sixty-day review window, it claimed reasonable grounds for the delay.The court held, however, that the State's delay was extreme and it lacked reasonable grounds for missing the statutory deadline. The court explained that the key distinction between this case and City of Phoenix v. Huerta, 869 F.3d 963 (D.C. Cir. 2017), is the FAA's near constant engagement with petitioner City of Phoenix throughout the period between the new flight paths' implementation and the City's late petition. In this case, throughout the more than two and one-half years during which the State delayed filing its petitioner, its communications with the FAA were almost entirely self-initiated, sporadic and primarily through the Working Group. The court also denied the State's motion to amend as moot. View "Maryland v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law

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Horry County, South Carolina filed an action in magistrates court to eject Skydive Myrtle Beach, Inc., from a hangar at the Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach. The magistrates court found Skydive did not have any right to occupy the hangar. The circuit court affirmed the ejection. Skydive appealed to the court of appeals, which dismissed the appeal on the ground it was moot. The South Carolina Supreme Court granted Skydive's petition for a writ of certiorari and reversed, finding the appeal was not moot. However, on the merits, the Supreme Court agreed with the magistrates court and the circuit court that Skydive had no right to occupy the hangar. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry Cty." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 somewhere over the Southern Indian Ocean in the early hours of March 8, 2014. Representatives of many of the passengers filed suit in United States, alleging claims under the Montreal Convention against Malaysia's national airline at the time of the flight, its current national airline, and the airliners' insurers, as well as claims against Boeing, which manufactured the aircraft in Washington state. After the lawsuits were centralized into a multidistrict litigation in the district court, the district court granted appellees' motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds.The DC Circuit held that the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in dismissing the lawsuits for forum non conveniens. In this case, the district court carefully weighed the relevant public and private interest factors and reasonably concluded that Malaysia is a more convenient forum to try the claims. View "Smith v. Malaysia Airlines Berhad" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment compelling arbitration of grievances raised by airlines in a dispute with the collective bargaining representatives of their pilots.The court held that the district court properly granted the employers' motion for summary judgment and to compel arbitration. The court held that the management grievances did not involve a major dispute; rejected the Union's argument that the case raised issues of representation that would fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board; and held that the district court did not err in exercising jurisdiction over the dispute. The court also held that Atlas's motion to compel arbitration of its management grievance was timely.Finally, the court rejected the Union's three arguments with respect to the arbitrability of the employers' management grievances. In this case, Southern was entitled to file a management grievance with the Southern Board regarding the interpretation of Section 1.B.3 of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA); the district court correctly determined that it lacked authority to decide whether the merger provisions of the Atlas CBA were prompted by the announced operational merger of Atlas and Southern; and nothing in the process of interpreting the provisions of the two collective bargaining agreements purports to bind Atlas or Southern pilots to the terms of another existing CBA. View "Atlas Air, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters" on Justia Law

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Horry County, South Carolina filed an action in magistrates court to eject Skydive Myrtle Beach, Inc., from a hangar at the Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach. The magistrates court found Skydive did not have any right to occupy the hangar, and ejected Skydive. The circuit court affirmed. Skydive appealed to the court of appeals, which dismissed the appeal on the ground it was moot. The South Carolina Supreme Court granted Skydive's petition for a writ of certiorari and reversed the court of appeals because the Court held the appeal was not moot. On the merits, it agreed with the magistrates court and the circuit court that Skydive had no right to occupy the hangar. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Skydive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that the FAA wrongfully terminated plaintiff. Plaintiff filed her action in the district court within the 30-day statutory limitations period, but she mistakenly named only the FAA and her former supervisor as defendants. Because plaintiff's action alleged claims of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, she should have named the head of the executive agency to which the FAA belonged, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. After the statute of limitations had expired, the FAA moved to dismiss and Secretary Chao then filed her own motion to dismiss.The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff was entitled to relation back under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(2). The panel held that the district court adopted an overly technical interpretation of the term "process" as used in Rule 15(c)(2). Rather, the panel held that the notice-giving function of "process" under Rule 15(c)(2) was accomplished whether or not the summons accompanying the complaint was signed by the clerk of court. Furthermore, the requirements for relation back were met here where both the United States Attorney and the Attorney General were sufficiently notified of the action within Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m)'s 90-day period. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Silbaugh v. Chao" on Justia Law

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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

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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