The New York Personal Injury Blog

FAA's Ignoring of Whistleblower Complaints Legally Risky?

Disturbing news has emerged about the FAA’s vigilance regarding air traffic controllers, reports CBS New York. A government watchdog group, in a letter to the White House, highlighted numerous instances of neglect of duty amongst air traffic controllers at an unidentified air traffic control center.

The news comes on the heels of investigations that substantiated another whistleblower’s claims, including allegations that controllers slept in the control room at night, left early, used personal electronics while on duty, used improper air traffic control procedures and engaged in work stoppages to gain overtime pay.

The watchdog group is concerned that the FAA isn't investigating enough of the claims, or investigating quickly enough. In one instance of a claim that was substantiated, planes leaving Teterboro routinely got too close to planes arriving at Newark.

Should something happen due to negligent employees, such as a plane crash, this documented evidence of neglectful employees, along with evidence that the FAA knew or should have known, via the uninvestigated whistleblower complaints, could provide all of the evidence necessary for a personal injury lawsuit from a Manhattan injury attorney.

Essentially, the FAA could be liable for their employees' neglect, through respondeat superior, plus their own neglect in failing to investigate claims and set new policies to prevent negligent behavior, like that described above, from continuing to happen.

Sovereign immunity also would likely not protect the FAA from suit. The immunity is essentially a shield from civil liability for the federal government and its agencies.

However, the government waived their shield with the Federal Tort Claims Act, allowing the government to be sued for torts done through the operation of their agencies, officers, and employees. Certain torts, which do not seem to include negligence, are still suit-proof.

Lawsuits aside, the FAA is really going to have to make some changes. Even if sovereign immunity shield did protect them, for the sake of safe skies over New York and elsewhere in the nation, the whistleblower claims need to be investigated.

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