Tropic Ocean Sues Tailwind Air And Two Pilots
Tropic Ocean Air, LLC has brought a lawsuit against two of its former pilots and its competitor Tailwind Air, LLC. The case, brought before the Circuit Court for Broward County Florida is public and filed under case number CACE18016421 at: browardclerk.org
The 31 page lawsuit which includes exhibits, alleges that Tropic Ocean’s former Chief Pilot (*) and a Copilot induced irreparable harm and damages upon the Seaplane carrier by violating their non compete and non disclosure agreements and accepting employment with Tailwind Air, LLC in New York. Note: (*) There appears to be a discrepancy between the defendant, referred to as “Chief Pilot” and the person on file with the FAA on the operator certificate.
Tailwind Air, LLC is accused of having committed a tortuous act by intentionally and unjustifiably inducing the pilots to breach their restrictive covenants with Tropic Ocean and by having done so, gaining the required knowledge, skill and inside- knowledge required to cause Tropic Ocean to to loose a contract with Fly Blade, Inc. on its New York Seaplane route.
Fly Blade, Inc. is one of Tropic Ocean’s major customers and functions as a third party indirect air carrier similar in concept to a travel agency. BLADE previously entered into a contract with Tropic Ocean Air, LLC to perform transportation services, deploying two full time and one standby seaplane in New York. The two pilots named as defendants in the suit are indirectly accused of having shared confidential information to help Tailwind gain the contract with BLADE. Tropic Ocean thinks that “Tailwind Air would not have been able to procure BLADE as a customer but for their having employed Tropics former Chief Pilot and one of its Co-Pilots.
Under point 67 of its 118 points of factual allegations, Tropic Ocean claims that “In or around March 2018, Tailwind Air, LLC had contacted Tropic Ocean regarding a need for aircraft and pilots. Tailwind Air proposed leasing Tropic Ocean’s aircraft and also expressed having a need for pilots and suggested working together with Tropic Ocean on pilot training.” These proposals were rejected by Tropic Ocean.
Uniqueness Of Pilot Positions
Tropic Ocean claims that both, Chief Pilot and Copilots are unique positions within the airline and charter industry. Both pilots signed non compete and non disclosure agreements as part of their promotions and/ or employment, restricting them from accepting employment (within a time period of two years) for other seaplane companies in Florida, New York and the Bahamas.
The firm states that both pilots played highly instrumental roles in Tropic’s development of business in New York and had insights into the company’s marketing strategy as well as access to internal communication and customer data. According to Tropic Ocean, Tailwind Air, LLC would have not been capable to obtain the BLADE contract without the specific training to fly seaplanes in New York and their past employees violating their non disclosure agreements.
“Had Tailwind Air not obtained the Blade contract, Tropic Ocean would have an additional seaplane operating for Blade full time as well as a fourth seaplane operating on a standby basis. Instead, Tailwind Air is now providing that service for Blade.” the allegation says.
Both, Chief Pilot and Copilot terminated their employment with Tropic Ocean Air at around the same time in April of 2018 and according to the documents, the Chief Pilot was reminded of his contractual obligation to refrain and desist to provide seaplane operation services in Florida, New York and the Bahamas and further, to desist from exercising Commercial Pilot privileges for competitors.
Copilots at Tropic Ocean Airways are paid $100 per day according to court documents. Manhattan’s average weekly wage of $3,087 is more than two and a half times the national average of $1,152. Pilots live in company owned apartments referred to as “crash-pads”. The pay-rates of a Captain or a Chief Pilot have not been revealed by Tropic Ocean Air, LLC.
Plaintiff now seeks to recoup damages, lost revenue, goodwill, loss of clients as well as reimbursement for the impairment of future earning capacity in addition to attorney’s fees and the cost of bringing the suit.
The court was asked to order emergency injunctions against both pilots as well as Tailwind Air, LLC to desist from interfering with Tropic Oceans contractual and business relationships. Further, counsel has been asking the court to force Tailwind Air to desist from employing both pilots and to have Tailwind Air, LLC ordered to refrain from accepting any request to provide seaplane operation service, or inducing the termination, cancellation or non renewal of any business from any Tropic Ocean client or prospective client.
Tropic Ocean Air is no newcomer to lawsuits against competitors. In December of 2014 the Court Of Appeals For The Eleventh Circuit in Florida dismissed a lawsuit brought against Julie Floyd and Key West Seaplane Services, Inc. accusing the competitor of allegedly having violated the Anti Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) for registering and holding on to the domain name tropicairways.com. At last check, this website was cash-parked with a well known domain registrar and is available for purchase.
Due to ongoing litigation, Seaplanemagazine.com has not asked the involved parties for statements, however we intend to keep reporting on further developments and remain open for comments from concerned parties. An opinion editorial on the signing of non compete clauses was published last Friday, soliciting readers of Seaplanemagazine.com to provide insight into going practices.
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