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Petitioner seeks review of the NTSB's decision affirming the FAA's order revoking his aircraft registration certificate. After petitioner admitted to the FAA that he used his aircraft to transport marijuana, the FAA revoked his registration certificate because “the aircraft was used to carry out, or facilitate, an activity that is punishable” as a drug-related felony. 49 U.S.C. 44106(b)(1)(A). Separate, state court criminal proceedings against defendant were dismissed after the trial court suppressed the drug evidence found on his plane. The court concluded that, under the statute’s plain language, the proper inquiry is whether the “activity” is “punishable,” not whether the certificate holder is at risk of being punished. In this case, because the activity—transporting marijuana—was punishable as a felony, the court concluded that defendant's certificate was properly revoked even though he may no longer be subject to punishment under state law. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Connors v. NTSB" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, diagnosed with Insulin Treated Diabetes Mellitus (ITDM), seeks the first class medical certificate necessary to serve as a commercial airline pilot. Plaintiff holds a third class medical certificate authorizing him to pilot non-commercial flights in the United States. The FAA contends it did not issue a final order regarding plaintiff's first class medical certificate application; it purportedly ruled solely on his independent request for a third class medical certificate and specifically indicated the first class certificate remained under review. The court concluded, however, that the specific facts presented here establish a constructive denial of plaintiff's application for a first class certificate. The court held that where, as here, an agency has clearly communicated it will not reach a determination on a petitioner’s submission due to petitioner’s recalcitrance but simultaneously refuses to deny the petitioner’s submission on those grounds, it has engaged in final agency action subject to the court’s review. Although plaintiff's case is subject to judicial review, the court noted that there is a complete absence of a relevant administrative record to review. Accordingly, the court remanded to the FAA to offer reasons for its denial of plaintiff's application for a first class medical certificate. View "Friedman v. FAA" on Justia Law

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Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust (TAIT) sought reimbursement for amounts it paid to a third-party contractor in furtherance of a noise abatement program funded primarily by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Because its petition for review of agency action was not timely filed, The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the action. View "Tulsa Airports Improv. Trust v. FAA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, seeking to represent a class of customers, filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-68, case claiming that Spirit engaged in an elaborate criminal enterprise involving the use of mail and wire fraud. The complaint specifically alleged that Spirit portrayed its Passenger Usage Fee as a government-imposed or authorized fee when, in fact, it was merely a portion of the base fare price of an airline ticket charged by the airline. On remand, the district court dismissed plaintiffs’ second amended complaint for failure to state a claim. The court affirmed, concluding that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege proximate cause; and they also failed to properly plead the existence of a RICO enterprise. View "Ray v. Spirit Airlines" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Air Methods, in state court for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Air Methods removed to federal court and the district court, relying on this court's decision in Botz v. Omni Air International, dismissed the complaint. In Botz, the court construed the effect of the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 4173(b)(1), pre-emption clause on state whistleblower-protection laws. Although three circuits have disagreed with Botz in relevant part, the court concluded that plaintiff's claim cannot be distinguished from the second claim dismissed in Botz. Botz ruled that the plain language of section 41713(b)(1), bolstered by enactment of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (WPP), 49 U.S.C. 42121, pre-empted a whistleblower-retaliation claim based on reporting an alleged safety violation to an employer. Plaintiff argued that if Botz cannot be distinguished, then it should be overruled in relevant part. But one three-judge panel cannot overrule another. Plaintiff may raise this contention in a petition for rehearing en banc. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Watson v. Air Methods Corp." on Justia Law

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Southwest petitioned for review of the DOT's guidance letter addressing “accommodation” policies at Love Field. Accommodation is a process by which an airline can gain access to operate flights from an airport at which it leases no gates. The court dismissed the petition for review, finding that DOT’s letter does not constitute a final agency action, a prerequisite to the court's review. In this case, the letter does not reflect the consummation of DOT’s decisionmaking on the issues it discusses. DOT in fact has instituted an administrative proceeding (which remains ongoing) that will address and resolve, among other things, the precise issues and policies broached in the letter. View "Southwest Airlines Co. v. DOT" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the NTSB's final decision affirming the initial decision of the ALJ which upheld the FAA's sixty day suspension of petitioner's air transport pilot certificate. The suspension order stated that petitioner, as pilot-in-command, had filed a flight plan for and operated the flight of N497RC in reduced vertical separation (RVSM) airspace, even though no operator was authorized to do so at the time. The court concluded that the NTSB did not err reversibly in rejecting (1) petitioner's assertion that the ALJ improperly limited his cross-examination of several witnesses and (2) his affirmative defense of reasonable reliance. Therefore, the court affirmed as to those determinations. However, the court held that the NTSB’s decision affirming the ALJ’s rejection of petitioner’s defense of waiver of sanction under the Aviation Safety Report (ASR) procedure was arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court reversed as to those rulings and rendered judgment that petitioner is entitled to waiver of all sanctions - expressly including the sixty day suspension of his air transport pilot certificate - by virtue of his timely compliance with the FAA’s ASR procedure. The court remanded to the NTSB with instructions to expunge its suspension of petitioner’s certificate and to take any other steps that might be required to complete these proceedings. View "Boeta v. FAA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Signal Aviation Services, Inc. (Signal) appealed a superior court grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant City of Lebanon (City) in this action by Signal for, among other things, breach of contract. The City cross-appealed a portion of the trial court’s order interpreting the contract. Signal leased 8.91 acres at the Lebanon Municipal Airport (airport) as assignee of a Lease and Operating Agreement (LOA). The City owned the airport and was the lessor under the LOA. The LOA granted Signal the nonexclusive right and obligation to provide fixed based operator (FBO) services at the airport. In granting this nonexclusive right, the City agreed in paragraph 3M(2) of the LOA that “[a]ny other operator of aeronautical endeavors or activities will not be permitted to operate on the Airport under rates, terms [or] conditions which are more favorable than those set forth in this Agreement.” In 2006, the City increased the assessed value of the land leased by Signal, not including the improvements, resulting in a corresponding increase in Signal’s property tax liability. Signal applied for an abatement of taxes for the years 2006 and 2007. The City’s assessors denied abatement, and Signal appealed to the New Hampshire Board of Tax and Land Appeals (BTLA). The BTLA dismissed the appeals because Signal failed to present evidence of the property’s market value. Signal did not appeal that decision, bringing instead this suit, claiming, among other things, breach of contract. Its writ alleged that the City “materially breached its obligations under the [LOA] by providing more favorable and disproportionate tax assessments and taxation schemes under agreements with other entities at the Airport providing commercial aeronautical services there.” After review, the Supreme Court affirmed, having concluded that paragraph 3M(2), so far as it concerned taxation, merely obligated the City to require all other operators to pay all lawfully levied or assessed taxes. View "Signal Aviation Services, Inc. v. City of Lebanon" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a former pilot with Spirit Airlines, challenges the DoT's refusal to consent to the release of the urine sample it says petitioner produced for a mandatory drug test. Because the sample tested positive for controlled substances, petitioner lost his job and airman medical certificate. The court held that neither the DoT’s general rule against releasing urine samples for DNA testing, nor its refusal to release the sample in this case, is arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, Pub. L. No. 102-132, 105 Stat. 952. The court also held that petitioner's constitutional challenges to the rule fail. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Swaters v. DOT" on Justia Law

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At the heart of this appeal were The Boeing Company’s alleged violations of FAA regulations arising from aircraft Boeing sold or leased to the government. Three former employees of Boeing (referred to as relators) in this qui tam action, brought suit under the False Claims Act (FCA) against Boeing and one of its suppliers, Ducommun, Inc. The relators claimed Boeing falsely certified that several aircraft it sold to the government complied with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, even though it knew parts manufactured by Ducommun and incorporated into the aircraft didn’t conform to FAA-approved designs. The district court granted Boeing’s and Ducommun’s respective motions for summary judgment on the relators’ FCA claims, finding no genuine dispute of material fact as to the falsity, scienter, and materiality elements of those claims. The district court also denied the relators’ motion to strike two FAA investigative reports, which the court then relied on in granting the motions for summary judgment. The relators then appealed. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded the district court properly admitted the FAA reports under the Federal Rules of Evidence and the relators failed to establish the scienter element of their FCA claims. View "Smith v. Boeing Company" on Justia Law