Pilot Awarded $300K in Suit Against Tradewind Aviation

Nov 1 2011

As it appeared on WCCT TV

By Gregory B. Hladky, CT.com

A pilot named Jeffrey Nelson who flew planes out of Oxford’s small airport was laid off in 2007 and got into a hell of a legal dogfight with his former employer. Nelson finally scored a court victory last month, flying off with a $307,000 award.

Nelson’s job with Tradewind Aviation was piloting charter flights to places like Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, according to a story in the Connecticut Law Tribune. When the recession hit and the well-to-do in Fairfield County cut back on flights to their vacation homes, Tradewind cut back on its pilots.

When Nelson applied for unemployment, Tradewind officials opposed it, claiming he’d been let go for stuff like being late to work, wearing dirty uniforms and general poor performance. Nelson denied all those allegations and got his unemployment payments, but that wasn’t the end of it.

Nelson was offered a job flying 60-90 passenger planes for a Midwestern operation, but the company involved suddenly canceled his hiring. Later, Nelson found out Tradewind had sent a nasty letter to the Midwestern company claiming he’d been fired for poor performance and hinted that he’d had a drug problem — which Nelson’s lawyer vehemently denies.

The upshot was a lawsuit heard in state Superior Court in Danbury last month.

During the trial, Tradewind’s lawyers offered critical reports of Nelson from other pilots and a photo of him allegedly sleeping in his co-pilot’s seat during a flight.

The jury didn’t buy it, and ended up taking only about two hours to decide that Nelson had been sucker-punched. They awarded him $207,000 in economic damages and $100,000 in non-economic damages.

Tradewind is asking the court to reduce the amount of non-economic damages to $1, still insisting the company’s letter wasn’t the cause of Nelson losing that job in the Midwest.



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