Tropic Ocean Lawsuit – Case Closed Again
Opinion Editorial written by Jason J. Baker— Abraham Lincoln once said that society should discourage litigation and strive to persuade each other towards compromise wherever possible. He also appears to have harbored silly thoughts about attorneys having a role to play as peacemakers, knowing that there would always be enough litigation business, down the road. Litigation was once supposed to solve issues and at least in our struggling seaplane industry, that concept appears to be ridiculed by absurdity. Our U.S. Congress is full of attorney’s too, maybe thats just a minor coincidence? Where litigation used to be a formalized form of protest, it seems to serve a less noble agenda these days – otherwise settlements would not be so common. Try not to let the following news destroy your faith in the integrity of your respective community.
Judge Lopane at the Circuit Court has now dropped defendant Mathew Holt Lindenberger from the case, which had been open and active for nearly 14 months, not without instructing plaintiff about the opportunity to refile the lawsuit and then comply with time- requirements of legal service process. It remains to be seen if Tropic will uphold its claims against Tailwind and Lindenberger. Tailwind stood accused of having committed a tort by hiring two Tropic’s “Non Compete Agreement” – bound pilots and acquiring and now working a BLADE contract in New York.
Anyone who would took the time to read Lindenberger’s opposition memo may have done the same, quite possibly even those who never passed a bar exam or read a book about the system of law and how attorneys interpret it. Anyone with an ounce of passion and a motive that falls just a dollar short of pure greed, may wish to skip filing any lawsuit in the first place, or dedicate resources to at least bring them to conclusion. Conclusions and judgements help to provide clarity.
The problem in our industry appears to be that these lawsuits have a potential to bring light to the truth. More often than not, the truth is that there isn’t enough silver and golden paint to cover the soft brown matter which continues to radiate its bad stench to the high heavens. So, in essence, it might be golden or silver in color – but it still smells terrible.
Dedicated professional seaplane pilots are quite difficult to get, these days. I could tell because I get offers for employment from far away on a frequent basis. This industry is just about the smallest village I have seen in my 30 years in aviation and holy Odin shall be my witness – I’d go so far and say that everyone knows everyone. While the professional seaplane pilot community seems largely silent for outsiders, its communication and connectivity structure is nothing short of miraculous. There are secret and public groups, home to a wild array of pro’s who talk and share candid information with each other. People talk and they do talk about inconvenient things as well. As with all secret handshake societies, much of it never sees the light of day, none of it ever gets scrutinized and some should be glad for this to be the case.
Is Tropic Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?
Quite frequently younger pilots reach out to me with questions about the current seaplane pilot market. Questions range from recommending flight schools to selecting good operators to start the career. As a rule, I attempt my very best to give some general guidance, but endorsing any specific business comes too close to creating the impression of being biased. With lower frequency questions reach me about possible other ongoing litigation against pilots and tips and tricks for avoiding dealing with the wrong kind of business.
“How many other pilots is Tropic Ocean currently litigating against?”. Answer: I can’t tell. Lawsuits are not something I enjoy following or search for. If a reader reaches out and makes me aware I will read up on the case, but I am not actively out there looking for more trouble and I don’t give a hoot about hearsay and “stories”. Be that anecdotal about unreported accidents, safety violations or downright criminal conduct by any of the players out there, or about examiners who drink a tanker-load of alcohol and stink up the cabin during a check-ride. Its definitely safe to assume that there is a lot of “unseen” and “invisible” litigation in our industry – my tip for the youngsters is to just thread carefully. Learn to read between the lines: “No Comment” may have a meaning. For the dumbest among the challenged, please don’t write, say or sign anything you are not willing to defend in a court of law!
Sure, a large number of young pilots is working with all their might on trying to plant themselves in an airliners cockpit to spend a lifetime of ups and downs in the airline industry. Some wish to move into the private and corporate luxury sector and are looking to have some excitement prior to entering the life of a glorified, fourth dimension added, bus driver. I hold it like Bartleby for these individuals (we all know Bartleby from Literature 101) and usually “prefer not to” partake in the young persons decision making process. Its my choice and privilege to let others help make such fundamental decisions.
The Non Compete Issue Remains Nebulous For Pilots
Nobody in their right mind wishes a legal issue upon their colleagues and nobody with any interest in a prospering industry would appreciate suing the very fabric of most commercial seaplane operators. I believe in the doctrine which states that everything that goes around, comes around. We journalists and independent writers can (theoretically) be silenced by de-funding our publications in retaliation for featuring the wrong topics. But demotivating pilots and suing them out of the industry is just a tidbit more critical. In my opinion, we can’t afford to do that. Commercial seaplane pilots in most of the developed countries have no valid representation or unified voice.
Sooner or later, we’ll need to FINISH one of these lawsuits to create clarity for all. In other words: The fog needs to dissipate and pilots need to know better and realize what they are signing, when putting their name on the dotted line under any contract, especially non compete and non disclosure agreements. In my day to day business, I sign these things frequently and I do take time to inform myself about the implications of my signature, both – upon my business and publication and my family. When I need to, I have a number of attorneys within reach to help me clarify and differentiate my personal understanding or interpretation of law, vs. that of a judge, tasked with delivering final and hopefully conclusive answers.
My deeper concern is that – without finished litigation – the issue of non compete agreements remains a cliffhanger in recessive times. Our industry is well beyond peak and in solid decline, where it may well stay, as more and more environmental nut-jobs and false flag panic- event creators change the very fabric of society back towards the stone-ages. Supposedly, people who drive conventional cars and fly at all are all soon to be subject to public lynchings again. Society seems to demand a return to horse and buggy – airplanes are soon to be a terrible eyesores for the panicking public. Thank you, Greta Thunberg!
Always More Litigation Down The Road
Judge Lopane may have temporarily restored peace and calm on the sinking Andrea Doria, however with seaplane pilots becoming a endangered species, our industry ought to start thinking about which battles to fight and which battles to skip. Prudent would be for someone with some financial stamina to enter into this legal circus, sign a non compete agreement and within the punishable time-frame, violate the terms of the agreement on purpose. Best would be to do this in various states, so as to create public record of the dis-balance in legal interpretation of laws which should have been standardized by federal law, long ago. Only then will newcomers to the industry be enabled to refer to precedent in determining their course of action.
Until then, we may all listen to Abraham Lincoln mumbling profanities and turning in his grave after realizing postmortem that things like finding common ground, common sense solutions, gentlemen agreements, promises made and promises kept, style, class and respect are all but foreign terms to his beloved American society. Rest well, Mr. Lincoln, you’re not missing any societal behavior or developments that would make you very proud or happy.
Jason Baker works as a freelance writer and marketing/ advertising and public relations consultant. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (SEL/SES/MEL), instrument rating as well as advanced & instrument ground instructor certificates. Jason is the owner & managing editor of Seaplanemagazine.com. He personally prefers the beauty and simplicity of truth, rather than seeking fame and popularity. For more information about consulting services offered, click on Consulting & Services.