Gregory S. Winton, Esq.
The FAA is Ordered to Pay a New York Airline Pilot and Mechanic More Than
$21,000 in Attorney Fees Following the Dismissal of an Emergency Order of Revocation
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 23-- On February 10, 2004, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Administrative Law Judge William R. Mullins Ordered the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to pay Michael A. Tarascio, a New York Airline Pilot and Aircraft Mechanic, $21,978.47 for attorney fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 5 U.S.C. § 504, et. seq., 49 C.F.R., § 826.1 et. seq.
The award follows Judge Mullins' dismissal of the FAA's Emergency Order of Revocation issued against Michael Tarascio, owner and former Chief Pilot of Air East Management, Ltd. (Air East), a Long Island, New York-based charter company (Administrator v. Michael Anthony Tarascio, NTSB Docket No. SE-17176). The FAA sought revocation of Tarascio's Airline Transport Pilot and Airframe & Powerplant mechanic certificates. The unprecedented NTSB decision caused the FAA to return Mr. Tarascio's certificates.
During the emergency hearing on September 9, Tarascio's attorney, Gregory Winton, moved for dismissal of the Complaint and reversal of the Revocation Order following presentation of the FAA's case in chief. Judge Mullins granted Winton's motion for a directed verdict finding that there was "no evidence presented" by the FAA to prove that Tarascio violated any regulations. The FAA appealed Judge Mullins decision to the five member panel of the NTSB.
By unanimous decision, the NTSB denied the appeal finding "no error" in the judge's decision. In essence, the FAA Administrator alleged that logbooks and other documents were asserted false because maintenance discrepancies were not logged, that aircraft were unairworthy because they must have had mechanical problems that were not recorded; and that operating aircraft unairworthy for want of documentation is careless and reckless. However, the NTSB found that "the Administrator put on no showing that any of Air east's aircraft was in fact operated on a specific flight while it had a discrepancy or condition that made it unairworthy.
In granting the attorney fee award, Judge Mullins held that the Emergency Order of Revocation issued against Tarascio "was not substantially justified in law or in fact." (Application of Michael Anthony Tarascio, NTSB Docket No. 314-EAJA-1716).
According to Winton, "This is a rare decision. Only one percent of Emergency Orders of Revocation are reversed (See GAO/T-RCED 1998)." The FAA wasted valuable agency resources to investigate, prosecute, and defend this frivolous action.
Gregory Winton, a former FAA trial attorney, has been practicing aviation law since 1989. Winton runs a national law practice based in Rockville, Maryland. He is a licensed commercial pilot and certified flight instructor.
Gregory S. Winton, Esq.
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