Updates On The Tropic Ocean Airways Lawsuit
In the Summer of 2018 Tropic Ocean Airways, LLC (“Tropic”) had filed lawsuits against their competitor Tailwind Air, LLC (“Tailwind”) as well as two of its former pilots. Tailwind is accused of gaining unfair advantages by hiring two specifically trained pilots and (allegedly) thereby obtaining confidential business information about Tropic and its customers. This information was then (also allegedly) the basis for unfairly obtaining a contract with their joint business partner BLADE, who acts as an indirect air carrier in New York. The lawsuit specifically refers to one of the defendants as Tropics “Chief Pilot”, implying/ alleging that hiring that particular pilot was of specific relevance for Tailwind in obtaining critical internal and confidential information.
Various deadlines from filed motions, including Tropic’s request for enlargement of time in the process of serving one of the pilots; and further, responding to Tailwind’s Request for Production, have come and passed. Court documents indicate that Tropic has remained unresponsive to Tailwind’s “Request for Production”, filed on October 19, 2018. Tropic asked the court for Enlargement of Time on November 18, 2018.
[Editors Note: A Request for Production is legal speak for a parties desire to obtain and have disclosed documents related to, or backing up the other parties claims as part of the discovery or fact finding process. A Request for Enlargement of Time is the term used for asking the court to allow for more time in serving due process and legal documents to defendants. Florida Law spells this out in it’s Rules of Civil Procedure]
According to court documents on file under case number CACE 18016421 at the Broward County Clerk’s website, defendant Tailwind has now asked the court to compel plaintiff to respond to their request and there has been a newly issued Notice Of Hearing, requesting the presiding judge to compel Tropic to produce the required documents. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, February 11, 2019 at 8:45AM at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Additionally, one of the defendant-pilots has asked the court to dismiss the case for failure to serve defendant in due time.
In Florida, a court has three options if a plaintiff fails to serve process within 120 days of filing the complaint. (1) The court may direct the plaintiff or opposing party that service be effected within a specified time; (2) dismiss the action without prejudice; or (3) drop the defendant as a party. The caveat of dismissing cases without prejudice is sometimes that it keeps doors open for refiling lawsuits or bringing counteraction, though.
Recently, Tropic Ocean announced its new Aviator Career Enhancement” Program (ACE) which allows pilots who seek careers within the airline world, to reach their goal in an accelerated and more structured manner, while flying seaplanes. Tropic’s President Rob Ceravolo, who also serves as the Seaplane Pilots Association’s Field Director for Florida has stated that his airline makes significant investments into the seaplane – and aviation industry by allowing Tropic’s pilots to benefit from Tropic Ocean Air’s strategic relationship with Endeavor Airlines.