Justia Aviation Opinion Summaries
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
Crowley, et al. v Northern Aviation, LLC, et al.
Two debtor limited liability companies (LLCs) executed security agreements in favor of two creditor LLCs, giving the creditor LLCs security interests in three airplanes. Disputes arose when the creditor LLCs, considering the debtor LLCs in default, took possession of two airplanes and removed and retained parts of a third airplane. After a bench trial the superior court entered judgment against the debtor LLCs and an individual associated with both of them. The debtor LLCs and the individual appealed, raising issues about default, seizure of collateral, and post-seizure notice; the individual also questioned the judgment against him personally. The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s finding that failure to give Knik Aircraft Leasing notice of default prior to repossession of the Cessnas was harmless; the Court also affirmed the superior court’s interpretation of the text messages between Helmericks and the individual, Brett Crowley. The Court reversed the superior court’s decision that Northern Aviation’s failure to provide notice of disposition of the Cessnas was harmless. The Court vacated the superior court’s decisions about the repossession of the Mooney, its entry of judgment on the Mooney-secured loan, and its entry of judgment against Crowley in his individual capacity. The matter was thereafter remanded to the superior court for further proceedings. View "Crowley, et al. v Northern Aviation, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Scarlett v. Air Methods Corporation
Defendants-Appellees Air Methods Corporation and Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC provide air ambulance services. Defendants provided air ambulance services to Plaintiffs-Appellants, or in some cases to their minor children. Plaintiffs dispute their obligation to pay the full amounts charged by Defendants because Plaintiffs claim to have never agreed with Defendants on a price for their services. Plaintiffs filed suit, asserting jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), to determine what, if any, amounts they owe Defendants. Plaintiffs also sought to recover any excess payments already made to Defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiffs’ claims were pre-empted by the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 41713. The district court agreed and dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of all Plaintiffs’ breach of implied contract claims, the Scarlett Plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment claim, all Plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment claims, and the Scarlett Plaintiffs’ due process claims; the Court reversed the district court’s dismissal of the Cowen Plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment claim, only with respect to the existence of contracts between the Cowen Plaintiffs and Defendants; and the Court remanded for further proceedings. View "Scarlett v. Air Methods Corporation" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Class Action, Constitutional Law, Contracts, US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Air Transport Association of America v. FAA
The DC Circuit denied petitions for review of the FAA's decision that payments of the Portland International Airport's utility charges for off-site stormwater drainage and Superfund remediation did not constitute diversion of airport revenues or violate the Anti-Head Tax Act. The court held that Congress expressly authorized the use of airport revenues for "operating costs . . . of the airport" and the FAA has properly determined that the general expenses of a utility are such "operating costs." Therefore, the court rejected petitioner's contention that the FAA's decision was based on erroneous statutory interpretations and that the FAAs findings were not supported by substantial evidence. View "Air Transport Association of America v. FAA" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Government & Administrative Law, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Siegel v. Administrator of the FAA
The DC Circuit denied a petition for review of the FAA's decision to revoke petitioner's pilot certification for knowingly operating an aircraft with narcotics on board. After petitioner's plane crash-landed due to an engine malfunction, a trooper doing a routine inventory of the aircraft's contents discovered three chocolate bars infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive agent in marijuana) in petitioner's briefcase. The court held that the sanction of revocation of petitioner's pilot certificate was not imposed arbitrarily, capriciously, nor in conflict with the law. The court held that the Board explicitly considered petitioner's mitigating factors and simply determined that they did not warrant a lighter sanction. The Board reasoned that knowingly transporting illegal narcotics on an aircraft, regardless of quantity or purpose, fell within the scope of 14 C.F.R. 91.19 and was grounds for a certificate revocation. Likewise, the fact that the marijuana was purchased in Colorado did not change the fact that marijuana was illegal under federal law and in federal airspace. Finally, the passage of 49 U.S.C. 44710 did not limit the FAA's authority to revoke certificates under 49 U.S.C. 44709. View "Siegel v. Administrator of the FAA" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Government & Administrative Law, Professional Malpractice & Ethics, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
SilverWing v. Bonner County
This appeal stemmed from a dispute between SilverWing at Sandpoint, LLC (“SilverWing”) and Appellant Bonner County, Idaho (the “County”). SilverWing sought to develop a residential hangar and taxiway adjacent to the Sandpoint Airport for residents who wished to park their aircraft in their home garage. SilverWing alleged that “[i]n 2007, the County provided to SilverWing an ALP that reflected the existing location of the Airport’s runway, and made no mention or reference to any plans for the runway to be moved. At the same time, the County promised that there were no plans regarding changes to runway location which would be incompatible with SilverWing’s development.” During the initial stages of engineering for the development, the County informed SilverWing that it needed to move the taxiway from where it was originally planned onto County-owned airport property, to accord with the County’s Airport Layout Plan (ALP). SilverWing proceeded with its development based on the County’s assurances, and built a taxiway and other infrastructure, including streets, to support its development. Once the taxiway was built, SilverWing learned that the placement of the taxiway was not approved by the FAA. After several years of legal maneuvering, SilverWing proceeded against the County in court, ultimately on a theory of promissory estoppel. After trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of SilverWing. The County filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”), which the district court denied. The County appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s ruling on the JNOV and vacated its ruling regarding attorney fees. The Court determined the district court erred with respect to JNOV on the claim of promissory estoppel: "SilverWing actually got what it claims the County promised—an FAA approved taxiway in the location where SilverWing built it. SilverWing can now sell its development with no regulatory uncertainty." View "SilverWing v. Bonner County" on Justia Law
Posted in: Aviation, Contracts, Government & Administrative Law, Idaho Supreme Court - Civil, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Hirst v. Skywest, Inc.
Current and former flight attendants challenged a SkyWest Airlines compensation policy of paying for their work in the air but not on the ground, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201 (FLSA), and various state and local wage laws. The sought to certify a class of similarly situated SkyWest employees. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the federal claim. The flight attendants plausibly allege they were not paid for certain hours of work but under the FLSA the relevant unit for determining a pay violation is the average hourly wage across a workweek. The flight attendants failed to allege even a single workweek in which one of them received less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The dormant Commerce Clause, however, does not bar the other claims.. States possess authority to regulate the labor of their own citizens and companies; the dormant Commerce Clause does not preclude state regulation of flight attendant wages in this case, particularly when the FLSA itself reserves that authority to states and localities. View "Hirst v. Skywest, Inc." on Justia Law