Pilot wins lawsuit against Bombardier Flexjet: Firm used deceptive practices, jury finds
(Dallas Morning News, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Feb. 9--A Dallas jury has found Bombardier Flexjet's contract with a former pilot unenforceable, saying the Richardson-based private jet company used deceptive practices in promising pilots promotions and training.
Flexjet, which sells private jet service, sued Allen Miller of Plano in October 2005 for failing to repay a portion of his training costs after he flew for the company for 17 months starting in April 2000. The pilots' contract stated that pilots who left the company before working 24 months would repay a portion of their training costs, or $5,280 in Mr. Miller's case.
Mr. Miller, 52, countersued, arguing that Flexjet had falsely promised rapid promotions for new pilots and training that would help them get their official rating quickly on various types of corporate jets.
"These promises turned out to be lies," he said, especially the part about becoming a captain and earning more than $50,000 a year, well above the initial pay of $32,000 a year. "We were cheap labor to them."
In an interview, Mr. Miller said he thought it was particularly deceptive that the company emphasized to its customers that for safety reasons both captain and co-pilot would be fully rated on the planes flown. "I flew their planes for 17 months without my type rating," he said.
Calls for comment to Flexjet's spokeswoman and Jones & Davis attorney Chad Berry, who represented Flexjet in the case, weren't returned Friday.
The jury returned its verdict Monday, finding that the contract was invalid and that Flexjet had used deceptive trade practices, said Rob Wiley, attorney for Mr. Miller.
However, the jury awarded Mr. Miller no damages in his countersuit against Flexjet, and he probably will have to bear his own legal costs.
Mr. Miller estimated his legal expenses were about $70,000, but he believes he's among the very first pilots to successfully challenge Flexjet's pilot contract.
"It was a real education for me," he said.
Flexjet's Richardson operations employed 809 people last year, according to information from the company.
Mr. Miller now flies for Netjets Inc. of Woodbridge, N.J., which is owned by Berkshire-Hathway Inc.
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