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The following editorial was published in Aviation Maintenance in �99 in response to indictments against 2 mechanics & a manager at Sabretech who stood accused of causing the fire that brought down Valujet with 110 passengers aboard. All perished in the crash. They were accused of a practice known in the industry as �pencil whipping� or signing off that work had been completed but in fact had not. Pencil whipping is thought to often occur due to management pressuring mechanics to get the work done. The federal indictment alleges that
SabreTech, Florence, Valenzuela, and Gonzalez "entered into a conspiracy, the goal of which was to place the short-term business and monetary interests of SabreTech ahead of public safety concerns in the conduct of SabreTech�s aircraft repair station."

September 1999
Editor�s Notebook
by Editor
Matt Thurber
Dial M (Maintenance) For Murder

So. Aircraft mechanics now have a new concern to add
to their list of worries: screw up and you might go
to jail. Take note: this is going to have an
enormous impact on the aviation maintenance
industry.

On July 15, Eugene Florence, Mauro Valenzuela, and
Daniel Gonzalez were handcuffed as they surrendered to
federal authorities in Miami, Florida.

Florence
and Valenzuela, both FAA Airframe & Powerplant
mechanics, and Gonzalez, their manager at SabreTech, which
was contracted to perform maintenance for the airline
formerly known as ValuJet, are accused of causing the fire
that downed ValuJet Flight 592 on May 11, 1996, which
killed 110 people.

The 24-count federal grand
jury indictment said that the three men and their
employer, SabreTech, "did knowingly, willfully and
unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree...to
commit offenses against the United States, that is,
knowingly and willfully to make and cause to be made
materially false and fraudulent statements and
representations in matters within the jurisdiction of the United
States..."

The state of Florida issued its own indictments,
which were solely against SabreTech: 110 counts of
third-degree murder, 110 counts of manslaughter, and one count
of unlawful transportation of hazardous
materials.

The indictments focus much attention on the notorious
practice known as "pencil-whipping," where signed
paperwork attests that work has been done, when in fact it
has not. The federal indictment alleges that
SabreTech, Florence, Valenzuela, and Gonzalez "entered into
a conspiracy, the goal of which was to place the
short-term business and monetary interests of SabreTech
ahead of public safety concerns in the conduct of
SabreTech�s aircraft repair station."

Gonzalez,
SabreTech vice-president and director of maintenance, is
accused of supervising the company�s work, "including its
documentation, so as to rush and compress the work, even if it
meant skipping the prescribed work steps and falsely
asserting that work has been completed. SabreTech workers
bowed to managerial and supervisory pressure from
Gonzalez and others to falsify and prematurely certify the
performance and completion of work, a practice known as
�pencil-whipping.�"

How could this happen?

On April 26, 1996,
according to the National Transportation Safety Board
report on the ValuJet accident, SabreTech issued an
interoffice memo: "Effective immediately due to the present
workload all Maintenance Personnel including Management
are required to work 7 days (including days off). We
will return to regular work schedule when the three
(3) MD-80s are delivered."

A few days later,
mechanics removed chemical oxygen generators from some
MD80s that ValuJet purchased and that SabreTech was
preparing for ValuJet passenger operations.

The mechanics who removed the oxygen generators
did so using ValuJet routine work card 0069. On the
first page of card 0069, item 1.B. states: "If
generator has not been expended, install shipping cap on
firing pin."

According to the NTSB, "The mechanic
who signed work card 0069...stated that he was aware
of the need for safety caps and had overheard
another mechanic who was working with him on the same
task talking to a supervisor about the need for caps.
This other mechanic stated in a post-accident
interview that the supervisor told him that the company did
not have any safety caps available."

The A&P
further stated that "there was a great deal of pressure
to complete work on the airplanes on time, and the
mechanics had been working 12-hour week."

The
result was that not only did mechanics sign off each
required item on work card 0069, but four other
individuals signed the "all items signed" block.

One
of the four, a SabreTech inspector, signed the
"accepted by supervisor" block on a nonroutine work card on
one of the MD80s from which the oxygen generators
were removed. He said, according to the NTSB, that "at
the time he signed off, he was aware that the
generators needed safety caps. He brought this to the
attention of the lead mechanic on the floor at the time,
and was told that both the SabreTech supervisor and
the ValuJet technical representative were aware of
the problem and that it would be taken care of �in
stores.� According to him, after being given this
reassurance, he signed the card."

Unfortunately, the
uncapped oxygen generators were loaded onto ValuJet Flight
592, in a box that identified the generators as being
empty. There is still some disagreement, primarily by
members of the victims� families, over whether the fire
originated with the oxygen generators or an electrical
problem.

In any case, Flight 592 did crash as a
result of a raging fire.

And now, in an effort
to place blame, the mechanics who signed the work
cards but didn�t do the work to which they attested,
are facing up to five years in prison and $250,000
fines.

It was only a matter of time before this
happened. Mechanics have known for years that their jobs
entail serious liability and that the prospect of
appearing in court was an ever-present factor. That concern
focused on financial liability and might not have
included the possibility of spending time in jail.

But now the federal government has made it clear that
when mechanics become licensed by that same
government, they are taking on a huge risk. The risk includes
not only the day-to-day responsibility for the lives
of the flying public but also the risk of criminal
prosecution for making a mistake.

What can we learn from this terrible tragedy?

Mechanics have a unique power. Companies in the maintenance
business should pay attention to these indictments. Not
because of the sensationalism involved in SabreTech�s
indictment for murder nor for the picture of the mechanics
in handcuffs that was splashed across newspapers in
mid-July.

Before this accident, what would have happened to
Florence and Valenzuela if they had refused to sign off
work card 0069? Would they still have had a job at
SabreTech? Would SabreTech managers have found another
willing mechanic to sign off the card? Would Florence and
Valenzuela or anyone else in the hangar that day have been
able to make a big enough stink to assure that safety
caps were installed on the oxygen
generators?

The answer to the above questions, if asked prior to
May 11, 1996, is probably that the two mechanics were
afraid of losing their jobs. Whether they would have is
not determinable, nor is it a fair accusation to
level against SabreTech. Fear of job security often
leads to people keeping their mouth shut when they
shouldn�t. The often unbearable pressure of getting an
airplane out of the hangar for a customer can make
mechanics waver about whether or not to sign off something.
That pressure can also squelch an attempt to raise a
concern about something seemingly as simple as a safety
cap.

Now these indictments give back some of
the power that is vested in the A&P license.
Mechanics have the power to withhold their signature and to
question management and to force a halt so that a question
might be asked during a time when the hangar is full
and the customer is screaming.

So. What this
means is that any intelligent mechanic who keeps up
with the news will, after the scare of jail-time dies
down, realize that he or she wields the authority to
ensure safety. This may result in some delays, irate
customers, and lost dollars. But perhaps these indictments
will accomplish what the authorities intended:
improving safety for the flying public.


Now read the following excerpts from Gary Stoller�s USA Today article regarding the entertainment system (IFEN) installed on swissair 111:

-A company that supplied entertainment systems for Swissair jets brushed off employees' concerns about the systems' safety, well before the product drew investigators' attention as a possible cause of a 1998 Swissair crash, two former employees say.

The employees say Interactive Flight Technologies' entertainment system produced excessive heat, which worried them. They contacted USA TODAY after it published an investigative report on the system on Feb. 17.

- Dean Lilja, a former IFT mechanical engineer, says that he and other engineers repeatedly expressed their concern that the system generated too much heat.

"It was always an issue, and it was never dealt with," he says.

Lilja, who worked for IFT from December 1994 to August 1996, says he raised the issue with IFT's then-chief executive officer Michail Itkis. "Michail would say, 'It's not a big deal,' " Lilja says.

When one of the system's components caught fire during a test flight, Lilja says, a manager told him not to say anything.

=Fred Barber, who began working as IFT's quality assurance manager in fall 1995, says that each entertainment system box located under a passenger seat was excessively hot. He feared passengers would burn themselves.

The boxes "got so hot, you could fry an egg on them," he says. "I complained about the heat problem in several meetings but was told not to worry."

- After the Swissair crash, Lilja says that some IFT employees were concerned that the entertainment system was responsible. One former IFT official, he says, told them to keep quiet.

-Since USA TODAY's story, the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has begun examining the FAA's use of thousands of private companies to inspect and certify airlines' planes and alterations to them.

The Department of Transportation's Inspector General is considering an investigation.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2003-03-26-swissair_x.htm

- * IFT benefited from lax FAA oversight. After the crash, the FAA said the IFT system's design and installation were unsafe. The agency didn't catch the problems sooner because no one directly employed by the FAA reviewed the system's design or installation plans, supervised the installation or signed off on any work. All of that was done by a company that the FAA authorized to approve plane modifications on its behalf. Yet the FAA had repeatedly criticized that company, Santa Barbara Aerospace (SBA), for violating regulations and even briefly revoked its operating authority as IFT systems were being installed on Swissair jets in 1996.

- * Swissair's entertainment systems were installed in Switzerland in a rushed process that violated FAA procedures. In many instances, SBA did not follow proper certification procedures, and inaccurate or inadequate design data were used. Much of SBA's paperwork required to prove the system was properly certified is missing or was never completed. The Swiss government said it allowed the Swissair jets to fly with the IFT system because it relied on forms completed by FAA designees attesting that the system met U.S. safety standards. One form that the Swiss relied upon was used in violation of the FAA's rules for certifying changes to foreign-registered aircraft.

- Mlynarczyk is one of thousands of designees used by the FAA to help certify aircraft modifications. Under a decades-old program almost unknown to the public, the agency allows designees to be paid by the companies contracting them for certification work.

Mlynarczyk says IFT's system was very rudimentary and unsuitable for aircraft use, but IFT pressured him to accelerate the certification process. He says much work was needed before the equipment could pass FAA tests, including environmental and electromagnetic interference tests.

''They had no clue what it would take to get an STC,'' says Mlynarczyk. ''They would send some information about the system, and when we'd say, 'That's not good enough,' they'd say, 'You're trying to gouge us for more money.' They were running out of funds and trying to shortcut so many things.''

Mlynarczyk says he received a phone call from a representative of stockbroker D.H. Blair & Co., who asked him whether certification was near and whether he'd like to get in on the ground floor of IFT's initial public stock offering. IFT went public in March 1995.

Such an offer could violate a federal bribery law, which applies to anyone, like Mlynarczyk, acting on behalf of the government. The law, which imposes a fine and up to 15 years imprisonment, is violated by offers of ''anything of value to any public official'' with intent ''to influence any official act.''

-In August 1996, SBA sent the FAA's Los Angeles certification office, which oversees STC projects and designated alteration stations, a letter of intent, notifying the agency about Swissair's entertainment system project. Another FAA office, the flight standards district office in Van Nuys, Calif., was responsible for overseeing SBA's repair station activities.

The letter to the Los Angeles office omitted critical information. It said the system would be installed on one MD-11 jet and made no reference to Swissair's order for 16. The letter didn't specify that Hollingsead would be involved in the project and that installation would be done outside the USA. Had the letter described the full scope of the Swissair project, the project might have drawn more FAA attention. The FAA has more elaborate procedures for STCs covering multiple aircraft.

- The Swissair project required major aircraft modifications -- adding at least 2,300 pounds of entertainment equipment to each plane -- and the FAA was aware of repeated problems at SBA. According to government documents, an FAA inspector at the agency's Van Nuys office cited SBA in March 1995 for performing, supervising and inspecting work with inadequate personnel. In September 1995, another FAA inspector in Van Nuys said SBA didn't provide requested documents and was still ''without the proper staffing.'' In addition, the FAA said, some SBA equipment violated federal regulations because it was not tested for ''correct calibration.''

Other FAA documents show that eight officials from the FAA's Los Angeles office reviewed SBA's status as a designated alteration station in March 1996 and found at least one problem in each of 11 STCs the company issued. Two certificates with problems involved SBA work on entertainment systems unrelated to the Swissair project.

The officials found that SBA was not completing inspection reports as required by FAA safety rules and the company's designated alteration station manual. They also said SBA was violating FAA rules by circumventing a parts-approval process and instructed the company to store its STCs in locked cabinets to restrict access to them.

- Swissair began complaining that the entertainment electronics boxes under passenger seats were getting too hot and causing the hard disk drives to fail. IFT charged that the hard drives were defective and sued its supplier, Avnet. In court, Frank Talke, an expert witness for Avnet, testified that his tests showed that within an hour after IFT's entertainment system was turned on, heat generated by the system made the hard drives hot enough to fail. Aboard an airplane, the hard drives would probably get 10-20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than in a laboratory, he said.

Talke and others say malfunctioning hard drives wouldn't start a fire, but Talke's testimony may add to the FAA's criticism, made after the crash, that the IFT system had design shortcomings.

It ''was extremely heavy and used an inordinate amount of power,'' says John White of the World Airline Entertainment Association, a trade group of airlines and in-flight entertainment suppliers. ''IFT offered very large video screens with a lot of capability. The systems were tremendous power draws that created a lot of heat.''

- The FAA soon launched a ''special review'' that found numerous problems with the entertainment systems and their certification but said the agency's oversight was proper.

The team found that:

* ''In many instances,'' SBA did not follow proper certification procedures. It failed to complete various forms that were required, so there was no proof that an authorized expert had reviewed and approved data for flight test reports and tests for flammability and weight and balance.

* SBA issued an amendment approving an entertainment system, although a required flight test hadn't been done. It ''failed to complete'' FAA maintenance requirements and issued parts approval to IFT for entertainment system components that were not approved.

* Design data for the Swissair jets ''revealed numerous instances'' in which the data for the entertainment system was inadequate or inaccurate.

* SBA didn't correct problems identified by FAA audits before the crash, and the FAA did not follow up to ensure corrections were made.

The FAA team concluded that SBA's designated alteration staff was knowledgeable, qualified and in good standing. But ''in some instances,'' the staff ''didn't demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the MD-11 type design, design philosophy, design standards, airplane manufacturer's operational assumptions and Swissair operational procedures.''

It also wasn't good at keeping required records. Many of SBA's documents certifying the entertainment systems are missing, the FAA says. Various other documents, obtained from the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act, are incompletely filled out. Others are meaningless because they lack supporting documents, says Chuck Cupani, one of the FAA designees who approved components of Swissair's entertainment systems.

- * Inspections of other Swissair MD-11s also uncovered problems with the entertainment system's wiring installation, an FAA official told Air Safety Week after the crash. ''We've seen instances in those airplanes where they didn't use good industry practices for the installation of the wiring,'' the FAA's Wojnar was quoted as saying.

Mlynarczyk, the FAA-designee who IFT first approached to certify its entertainment system, also faults the wiring installation. He saw a journalist's photos of wire bundles on other Swissair jets.

''The installation was pretty bad,'' Mlynarczyk says. ''They did everything that Installation 101 would tell them not to do. They mixed wire types, installed wires under metal clamps not designed to hold wire and installed coaxial cables with right angles. It didn't look like a professional job. It surprised me because the work was accomplished at Swissair's facilities, and Swissair doesn't do work like that.''

* The entertainment system, as designed, was connected to the wrong electrical power source, the FAA's review team said. Airplanes are wired with separate electrical power buses that control essential functions needed to fly the plane and for non-essential uses, such as entertainment systems. On the Swissair jet, the IFT system was wired to the essential power system. That might have prevented Flight 111's pilots from quickly shutting down the entertainment system when the emergency started.

''The entertainment installation was a very rushed process,'' says Peter Eggler, a Swissair pilot who's participated in the Canadian accident investigation. ''I'm sure that led to the hookup problem.''


It is very clear from the above information from Gary Stoller�s USA Today articles, that there are many reasons why the companies involved and specific individuals should be further investigated in the Swissair 111 tragedy as it is very clear that as the Federal Government alleged against Sabretech in their criminal charges that �short-term business and monetary interests� were put ahead of passenger safey when the IFEN (entertainment system) was installed on swissair 111 and the other swissair MD11s. My hope is that the Federal Government who is supposedly looking into these issues (at least the last I�ve heard) will not sweep this tragedy under the carpet. There are so many reasons that they should not do this, too numerous to mention. 229 plus a near-term baby to be exact. I also believe that the Swiss authorities should be investigating this tragedy on their own end as it was Swissair that got involved with a small unknown company in Arizona that had no prior experience in the aviation business and ended up going into the dry-cleaning business when they failed to sell their product to other airlines.

One thing I would like to add. The FAA also needs to be investigated for the following reason from Gary Stoller's article:

A month after SBA began certifying the entertainment systems on Swissair jets, the FAA's Western Pacific region office finally acted on its Van Nuys inspectors' findings and ongoing concerns about SBA. The office suspended SBA's operating certificate, according to FAA documents.

The suspension should have halted SBA's operations, but the company continued to work on the Swissair project. On Dec. 16, 1996, four days after SBA's operating certificate was suspended, an SBA official wrote a letter to Hollingsead's quality-assurance director and authorized him to sign an FAA form stating that part of the project met federal regulations.

The following day, the FAA's regional legal office abruptly reversed itself, saying it had suspended SBA ''by mistake'' and restored its certificate, according to a Dec. 31 letter. FAA attorney Sam Frazer, who signed the letter, said the case against SBA was dropped because the inspector involved in the case had retired.

Keith Thompson, the now-retired inspector, says the case should not have been dropped because he left. A suspension of an operating certificate and an immediate reversal is suspicious, he says, but he doesn't know why the FAA legal office acted as it did.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2003-02-16-swissair-investigation_x.htm

Criminal charges do work as a deterrent to future crime. A mechanic pressured by management to sign off on shoddy work will not be so willing to do that when possible jail time is looming for doing the wrong thing. Air crashes should not be exempt from criminal prosecutions when crimes may have been committed.
 
Posts: 2567 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here is a law that should apply to the tragedy of swissair 111. I had spoken to a Canadian lawyer a few years ago about the possibility of lodging criminal charges against companies that had contributed to the crash and at that time she said that Canada didn't generally go after corporations that were guilty of criminal activity. This is a big step in the right direction.

STORY
Law arising from Westray mine disaster casts wide criminal net for companies

COLIN PERKEL
Canadian Press

Monday, November 03, 2003


TORONTO (CP) - A new law prompted by the Westray mine disaster should raise alarm bells for Canadian corporations because they risk prosecution for criminal behaviour they know nothing about and intrusive judicial interference, critics said Monday.

Labour organizations were ecstatic about the legislation, saying it will force companies to take a hard look at how they run their businesses. "This is changing the whole world of corporate criminal liability as we know it," said Bill Trudell of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers.

"Organizations are going to have to put in all kinds of layers of due diligence to be able to protect themselves."

Passed last Wednesday by the House of Commons and then by the Senate on Friday, critics said Bill C-45 was poorly conceived and rushed into law without proper consultation.

The bill arose in response to Nova Scotia's Westray mine disaster in 1992 in which 26 miners were killed in an underground explosion that occurred despite repeated safety warnings to the mine's owners and managers.

Criminal charges against two managers of the bankrupt owners were finally withdrawn in 1998, sparking new calls for legal reform.

Justice Minister Martin Cauchon called passage of the legislation "a major step toward ensuring employers will be held responsible for criminally negligent acts in the workplace."

Pat Van Horne, a representative with the United Steelworkers of America, said such a law might actually have prevented the Westray disaster had it been in place.

"Employers and their directors are going to have to watch their backs a little more carefully and take the safety of workers into consideration," said Van Horne.

Among other things, the law - which is to receive speedy royal assent at a formal ceremony - makes organizations criminally liable for actions by "senior" members even if they aren't directors or executives.

It also imposes a legal duty on anyone who directs work - including employers - to take reasonable measures to protect the safety of employees and the public.

However, that could mean a bank could be prosecuted if a frontline loans officer lends money that is used for a criminal purpose, Trudell said.

"Clearly, you can't have some guy down on the line who's on a frolic of his own bind the corporation," said Trudell.

"That is the danger in this bill."

Glen Yost, a lawyer with the Justice Department, agreed that was a possibility, but said the courts will ultimately determine what's reasonable.

Patrick Healy, a professor of criminal law at Montreal's McGill University, said much will depend on the discretion prosecutors exercise in bringing charges.

"It brings into the criminal law a much wider basis on which to prosecute corporations for failure to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of their employees and others who work for them," said Healy.

The law also allows a court to put a company on "probation" and in effect dictate that certain policies or procedures be put in place. Trudell called that "incredible interference."

One of only two senators to speak to the bill Friday was clearly mindful of the pitfalls of passing complex legislation "in a rush."

"The emergency here is the emotional need to resolve the Westray situation," said Raynell Andreychuk.

She said she hoped the Justice Department would provide "guidelines and examples" to clarify the law.

Yost said the decision against widespread hearings was a political one, but said the government made its intentions clear about a year ago.



http://www.canada.com/maritimes/story.asp?id=39B3123E-A046-46F0-A023-B521E0C64D8E
 
Posts: 2567 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Check this out from Airline Financial News. Pretty alarming. AirTran replaced Valujet and has had some fairly recent incidents regarding smoke/fires. Apparently whistleblowers who try to protect the flying public are still not protected from losing their jobs though this is somewhat encouraging. I only wish that someone had spoken up while that piece of garbage entertainment system was installed improperly on sr111. Whistleblowers must be protected and encouraged when lives are at risk.

AirTran Whistleblower Gets Day In Florida Court

Sep 22, 2003 (Airline Financial News/PBI Media via COMTEX) -- The difficulty in
fending off whistleblowing airline employees got harder - and potentially much
more expensive - when AirTran Airways [NYSE: AAI] lost an appeal in a Florida
court.

The airline attempted to resolve in a federal court the dispute involving a
maintenance supervisor who claims he was fired for filing a confidential
complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration. The plaintiff, Michael
Branche, wanted the issue tried under Florida law so that a jury could hear his
case. A panel of the federal appeals court based in Atlanta said that the case
could be tried under Florida's Whistleblower Act.

If the case survives an appeal, the airlines could face more suits and larger
damages, said Jeffrey Pasek, an attorney with the Philadelphia firm of Cozen
O'Connor and a specialist in whistleblower litigation. "It opens up a lot more
courthouses where these cases can be tried," he said. In addition, some states
will permit employees to sue supervisors as well as seek punitive damages.

"Whose law is going to apply? Once you open it up so that state law has a role
to play in a whistleblower complaint, how far can states go without interfering
with the federal law? This is new ground that is to be determined," Pasek said.

The issue is important to airlines and airline employees because the case will
help determine if there is a uniform standard in the industry that applies to
whistleblower cases. "If not, what variations can the airlines be expected to
deal with from one jurisdiction to another," Pasek observed.

AirTran has asked for a re-hearing by the full 11th circuit court in an attempt
to overturn the decision. AirTran's attorney in the case did not return repeated
phone calls seeking comment.

"I say that there is a reasonable chance that this decision will get overturned.
It is a very close question of law." Pasek noted that two other appellate courts
had different interpretations of the whistleblower protection program in the
1999 amendments to the Airline Deregulation Act.

Under Florida law, a jury will decided if AirTran is forced to re-hire Branche,
grant him back wages, pay compensatory damages and attorney fees, said Craig
Berman, the St. Petersburg specialist in employment discrimination who has
represented Branche since the 2001 incident. A Florida jury can not award
punitive damages, he added.

In the original incident on June 30, 2001, an AirTran DC-9 landed at Tampa
International Airport with one of two engines running at temperatures exceeding
FAA guidelines. Branch, the maintenance inspector, recommended that the engine
be thoroughly inspected. Instead, he claimed, the AirTran maintenance manager
and two others conducted a "high powered run" to test is airworthiness. In his
complaint, Branch alleged that the trio were not qualified to perform the
cockpit test and did not run it for the prescribed five minutes. The plane took
off and the engine overheated while enroute to Atlanta. The plane was taken out
of service and a cracked engine duct was discovered.

Branche filed a confidential complaint on July 2 with the FAA. However, AirTran
apparently learned it was Branche who filed the complaint. On July 23, AirTran
fired Branche for allegedly falsifying his time card. Branch denies the charge.

Branche has not worked since that firing, Berman said.

AirTran has asked that the case be tried under the 1999 legislation.

"Any time you are suing an employer regulated by the feds," Berman said, "they
will look for a pre-emption. The 11th circuit basically said we are not going to
let you slide out because of this technical defense because the state of Florida
has a vital interest in having a whistleblower law. Not only does Florida want
to protect the passengers, but also the people on the ground. By enabling a
person to report a safety violation, the citizens are protected. Imagine the
ValuJet crash occurring in a big city - AirTran is the successor to ValuJet."

Branche had filed for an administrative review of his case - as prescribed by
the federal law - but gave up after two years without a decision, Berman said.

The complaint is a common one, said Tom Divine, legal director for the
Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based non-partisan pro-
whistleblower advocacy group. The process is "slower than molasses. It is a
black hole." In the 25 to 40 cases the Department of Labor decides each year
involving complaints against corporations, similar to Branche's, Divine said
about one-third of the cases are won by the employee. While lacking firm stats
on those cases tried under state law, Divine said employees generally find a
much more hostile environment under state law.

"Private sector whistleblowers have wildly varying degrees of protection from
state to state," said Elletta S. Callahan, an associate professor of law and
public policy at Syracuse University. "Whether you [an employee] are protected
is not clear. It is really grim," she said. Many employees acting in good faith
report illegal or unethical activities "and it turns out they are not protected
because they fall through the cracks."

>>Contact: Jeffrey Pasek, Cozen O'Connor, (215) 665-2000; Craig Berman, (727)
550-8989; Tom Divine, Government Accountability Project, (202) 408-0034; Elletta
S. Callahan, Syracuse University, (315) 443-3784

http://www.prophet.net/quotes/stocknews.jsp?symbol=AAI&article=265u1541
 
Posts: 2567 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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BTW while I am on the subject of criminal, I see the prosecutor in Santa Barbara has gone after charges against Michael Jackson (high profile case of course, they want the attention), but they have still taken NO action against individuals that improperly certified the IFEN. 229 deaths and nothing. See Gary Stoller's article.

Also interesting to note that prosecutors in R.I. did go after the nightclub owners and the band manager in that tragic fire that occurred last year. In a sense that case is not unlike swissair 111, only those individuals involved in the entertainment system clearly had plenty of warning that this system was dangerous. Great 'justice' system we have. For some reason the airline industry mostly seems immune from this sort of thing even if a crime is committed. Incidentally I heard that the reason that prosecutors went after that nightclub was because of pressure from family members. Apparently it isn't enough for prosecutors to bother if they only hear from one. Why didn't the swissair family group that was formed ever bother to pursue it is what I'd like to know?

Here again are the links to Stoller's articles:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2003-03-09-swissair_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2003-02-25-our-view_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2003-02-16-swissair-investigation_x.htm

and most alarming of all:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/biztravel/2003-03-26-swissair_x.htm
 
Posts: 2567 | Location: USA | Registered: Sun April 07 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Oops I made an error. The SBA prosecutor that arrested Michael Jackson is a local prosecutor not Federal. It would be a Federal prosecutor that could could bring charges against Santa Barbara Aerospace.
 
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