View Full Version : Cathy Pacific sued for $100 million by fired crewmembers

Cyclic Hotline
4th Oct 2001, 00:44
Wednesday October 3, 11:45 am Eastern Time
Press Release

SOURCE: Hong Kong Air Officers Association

California-Based Airline Pilots Sue Cathay Pacific for $100 Million

Legal Action Filed in California Against Cathay Pacific and Members of Management for Retaliatory Termination and Libel

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 3, 2001-- Nine former Cathay Pacific pilots have filed suit against the airline for damages in excess of USD $100 million.

In July 2001, 49 Cathay pilots, including the nine here, were summarily terminated without cause or grievance hearings. The nine pilots fly routes in and out of Los Angeles International and San Francisco International Airports to long-haul destinations throughout the world.

In the lawsuit, the pilots claim their terminations were in retaliation for expressing concerns about airline safety issues. Under California law, workers who express concerns to their employers about working conditions they believe endanger the public or employees are legally protected from punishment including retaliatory termination.

The lawsuit claims that several years ago, for financial reasons, Cathay Pacific embarked on a scheme to reduce minimum qualification levels and training for pilots and to reduce the amount of time off pilots are given to recover from fatigue and jet lag. Cathay's pilots attempted without success to reverse or at least ameliorate what they viewed as a serious erosion in these and other areas.

In furtherance of their concerns, on July 3, 2001 the pilots promulgated a written Maximum Safety Strategy to emphasize and enhance safety standards in the areas of jet lag and crew fatigue as well as several other areas of concern. As a result, according to the lawsuit, the pilots were terminated six days later on July 9, 2001, in retaliation for the Maximum Safety Strategy.

Areas of concern addressed in the Maximum Safety Strategy include among other things rostering and crew staffing as well as cockpit fatigue. Fatigue caused by jet lag, excessive flight time and other causes can result in poor memory, reduced attention span, decreased mental ability and physical coordination difficulties. Problems associated with crew fatigue are critical and must be dealt with to ensure airline safety.

After the terminations, the lawsuit further claims that Cathay Pacific management commenced a smear campaign to defame and malign the reputations of the pilots, by saying in both print media and on the Internet that the pilots had been terminated for performance-related reasons when Cathay knew that not to be the case. The lawsuit quotes Cathay spokespersons as making false and libelous statements in wide reaching news outlets including CNN, The New York Times, Reuters, various Hong Kong newspapers and on Cathay's own Web site.

The nine pilots are represented by Skip Miller, a partner in the Los Angeles-based law firm of Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil and Shapiro, LLP.

4th Oct 2001, 02:24
Well lets see, it would have to be filed in the Superior Court of San Francisco or Los Angeles, and the most recect civil cases in trial now were filed two years ago, due to the very heavy civil calendar. Federal cases take even longer, due to the many illegal immigration cases on the calendar now, a wait of at least three years.
Hope these guys have very deep pockets, and are able to collect a judgement if they eventually prevail.
An uphill battle, all the way.
Their chances.....one in three thousand, I suspect.

Random Electron
4th Oct 2001, 02:34
Don't be such a miserable git.

Good luck to them I say.

air pressure
4th Oct 2001, 04:34
....one in three thousand...? about the same chance you have of getting any of your ventures of the ground 411a. You just can't help being negative can you. You obviously majored in being a 'sad old git' at school....


air pressure
4th Oct 2001, 04:37
....ps, notice the name of the law firm....! See the name 'Shapiro'. That is the same as in Bob Shapiro, one of OJ's lawyers. Needless to say, a company of that high a profile doesn't take on cases that they think they are going to lose.....!

You should have been in CX management 411, your personality and character would be welcomed by them.....

4th Oct 2001, 05:54
...and even if these malcontents prevail in court (not very likely) I wonder how they expect to collect a judgement, as CX is not a US registered company. Reciprocity is very difficult in civil actions. The CX management in HKG must indeed be laughing.

4th Oct 2001, 05:59
Seize one or two aircraft for starters?

4th Oct 2001, 07:17
411A - hmmm, not so sure...

this is really dodgy ground for CX (the US base), and they were always nervous about doing anything that could wind them up in a US court with regard to employment, immigration rules, FAA oversight of foreign carriers, etc. I know right now they'll be scratching their heads wondering....maybe they went too far this time.

I would put the odds much more towards "even" than you did....Shapiro and his chums must have spotted something in there somewhere...

Anyway, not what CX need right now with all the other problems in world aviation in the present climate - it's hard enough just getting the pax on board. What a mess... :rolleyes:

4th Oct 2001, 08:59
Well, lets see.
Employment...would be on a contract that could (has) been canceled, most likely for cause.
Immigration...as these guys are US citizens or permanent residents, no problem there.
FAA oversight...CX already has due to their 129 certificate.
Shapiro...'tis indeed a bright cookie, and suspect that he will have to really earn his fee in court.
Hope these guys are not in a hurry, as civil court action can drag out for a very long time....these guys may well have grey beards at the end.
And, I would not count on an out of court settlement. CX has no incentive.
Odds stand at one in three thousand, I think. There is one avenue that could just work...wonder if Shapiro is smart enough to find it?

4th Oct 2001, 11:24
Get your facts straight 411A (by the way, how's the view of the fountain?) -- your immigration info is wrong (as usual), don't have a good grasp of employment law either. Let's see.... you have a HK company with a wholly owned subsidiary named USAB which exists for the sole purpose of basing and operating out of the US.... methinks it might be easier than you think to assert circumvention of tax and labor laws. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, maybe its a duck??????

4th Oct 2001, 13:07
I,ve ducked away from this thread for quite a while, but still followed it with interest.

The arrogance of 411A, to presume that he knows "an avenue that will work," "but is the highly qualified lawyer smart enough to find it?"
411A, I think you need to go back to the baby store and buy a larger diaper for your mouth.

Good luck Cathay 49ers, There are a lot of regular guys out here wishing you all the very best for your quest for justice.

4th Oct 2001, 14:50
I know very little about this situation, which apparently is to the power of 10 compared to 411A. But it would appear that they have a least a good shot.
What with a US registered company, and if the case was won. Would it then be reasonable to assume that a lien applied in an LA court would be able to be served say in New York?
If so they could end up in very deep waters with aircraft being seized and sealed nation wide.
If this were the case would they perhaps decide to settle out of court?
I hope so. There is enough bad news out there right now without the need for managment instigated revolt.
If this was indeed part of a master plan to out with the old and in with the new (lower paid, longer hours, less rest, lesser pension) then the company should at least be upstanding and honour its previous obligations. In failing to do this it deserves everthing it gets, and more.
More power to em, and I hope they win.

411A, Second guessing a well proven law firm with a team of highly intelligent specialists might be good for a laugh, but when conducted by a someone such as yourself who assumes they might actually know something, only serves to proves to the rest of us you really are a cretin.
I pity the people you work amongst, the days must indeed be long.

4th Oct 2001, 18:38
Sure are lots of legal experts here, considering that nearly all do not live in the US, quite an achivement.
Hate to deflate your egos guys but employment law is very much different than in Europe or the UK. IF these malcontents were (the operative term) based and working in California then they would be required to pay federal and state taxes, and have legal immigration status. With the latest crackdown on illegals, maybe they should not shout from the rooftops so much.
Secondly, everyone here just assumes that to win in civil court is enough, and that an aircraft can be attached and sold to satisfy a judgement. Lots of legal hoops to jump thru before that happens, and the process could drag out for many years. If the aircraft is leased, a whole different avenue is required, but suspect that nearly all pilots have no idea about this.
Sorry guys, odds still at one in three thousand.
Legal experts most of you....ain't.

4th Oct 2001, 20:08
411A I am almost positive that the pilots are U.S. citizens. One of the pilots at my old airline was hired into the 74 at Cathay 5 or so years ago and was telling us their west coast operation is staffed with many Americans.

4th Oct 2001, 20:30
411A, Would you please employ the Queen's English, including it's spelling, in your rantings?
Thank You

P.S. Do you have a regular job, or is this it?

5th Oct 2001, 00:46
Sorry there Gulfpilot4, but we don't have a Queen here, at least not since Hillary left the White House. Poor 'ole Bill never had a chance.
In the last year our company has attached and sold two aircraft due to non-payment, and fully realise the difficulties involved.
Many pilots seem to shoot from the hip, so to speak, and do not know the legal process involved.
Our attorney is called "the shark" in local circles, and gets results.
Who knows, maybe Mr. Miller Esq, is just such a type. The CX guys will certainly need one.
Edited for the Queen---

[ 04 October 2001: Message edited by: 411A ]