A jury cleared an aviation company and a pilot of allegations that they defamed another pilot when discussing the safety of his flights.

The private discussions concerned John Walter’s practice of flying at a low angle during his approach of certain runways. In April 2016, Walter was terminated by his employer. Although he found a new position as a pilot, it was at a lower salary. Walter alleged he had been defamed. He admitted he flew at a lower slope than mandated by aviation guidelines but argued it was a widely accepted practice.

The judge ruled safety discussions had qualified privilege and required proof of malice. The defense denied malice and noted the talks were not known to his subsequent employer.

Case: Walter v. Jet Aviation Flight Services

Case No.: 9:16-cv-81238-RLR

Plaintiffs attorneys: Karen C. Amlong, William R. Amlong and Jennifer E. Daley, The Amlong Firm, Fort Lauderdale

Defense attorneys: Patricia A. Leonard, West Palm Beach, Ella Aliza Shenhav and Michael P. Silver, Tampa, Shutts & Bowen