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Lindsay v. National Transportation Safety Board

47 F.3d 1209 (1995)

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Lindsay v. National Transportation Safety Board

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

47 F.3d 1209 (1995)

Facts

Paul Lindsay (plaintiff) was a licensed pilot with an airline-transportation certificate. After a drunken evening, one of Lindsay’s friends was arrested for flying while drunk. Lindsay had also been in the plane and was highly intoxicated. Lindsay refused to leave his friend’s plane, and law enforcement ultimately left Lindsay to sleep in the plane. An hour or so later, the plane was discovered at a different airport a few miles away. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (defendant) gathered evidence indicating that Lindsay had flown the plane while still intoxicated and issued an emergency order revoking Lindsay’s pilot’s license. Lindsay filed an action with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) (defendant), challenging the revocation. Lindsay claimed that one friend had picked him up from the airport and another, sober friend had flown the plane to the other airport. For multiple reasons, the administrative-law judge found that Lindsay’s version of events was not credible and that Lindsay had most likely flown the plane while intoxicated. However, the administrative-law judge ultimately ruled that the FAA had not proved its case against Lindsay because Lindsay’s flimsy story had created some doubt about who had piloted the plane. Accordingly, the administrative-law judge reinstated Lindsay’s license. The FAA appealed the ruling to the NTSB. The NTSB overruled the administrative-law judge, confirmed the revocation of Lindsay’s license, and dismissed Lindsay’s challenge. Lindsay petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking review of the NTSB’s dismissal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Randolph, J.)

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