Legal Question in Aviation Law in California

aviation/general law question

Recently a video was posted with me in it on the internet. The person who posted this placed the video on Facebook, knowing I would contact him, once I got wind of the video online. Reson being was that this particular video would be detrimental to my career if seen by the wrong people. The result was just that and I was fired because of it. I think I can sue him for his actions, but I am also concerned that this video could be turned over to authorities mainly the FAA. This could possibly result in the loss of my certificates. Mind you this video was shot about a year ago, could there be legal ramifications if he released this in retaliation. I think I may need someone that understands aviation law for this matter. My other problem is that the person who posted this video is not a US citizen and lives in England, can I still seek compensation from him?

Asked on 3/22/09, 1:30 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Michael Stone Law Offices of Michael B. Stone Toll Free 1-855-USE-MIKE

Re: aviation/general law question

If you are a commercial pilot, and you allowed yourself to be photographed, for example, using drugs, you used poor judgment; the footage will stay on the internet forever; and you would have little basis to sue anyone.

If the footage is either libelous or invasive of your privacy, for example it was taken without your knowledge under circumstances in which you had a reasonable expectation of privacy, you could possibly sue; but, as you observed, quite possibly the other side could tell the FAA who might then yank your medical certificate and/or pilot's license. Even if this does not happen, you could be in the position of having to falsify your application for a medical certificate next time around; if you got caught, you could possibly be charged with a federal felony.

The good news, if there is any, is that if by publishing this footage the other party has done something legally actionable, which I don't have enough facts to determine, you might have the option of suing either in the U.S. or in the U.K. The U.K. is known for having very strong libel laws, and in the U.K. the losing party to a lawsuit has to pay the winner's attorney fees. Also, if the lawsuit were in the U.K., there might be a lower probability of FAA finding out. However, you could also pursue your lawsuit in a state or federal court in California even if he is a U.K. resident. I would be pleased to help you explore your options in this regard.

If you have any viable lawsuit, clearly you have incurred damages since you lost your job as a result. As with any legal claim, watch out for legal time limits.

You will want to go to YouTube and view the entire video, "Privacy Is Dead, Get Over It."

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Answered on 3/22/09, 3:36 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: aviation/general law question

You don't need an 'aviation' attorney to deal with whatever improper conduct you are shown doing in the video. You do need a termination/employment attorney, that is IF there is anything you can do to appeal or sue. Feel free to contact me if serious about doing so. BTW I am also a pilot, so am familiar with FAA issues.

You DO need the ability to sue that other person, and that would likely be in British courts. So, ask British attorneys what the law is and whether they can do anyghing to help you.

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Answered on 3/23/09, 3:55 pm

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