Vedder Thinking | News Vedder Price Achieves Victory in Unprecedented $1,025,000 FAA Action Dismissal
Vedder Price Shareholder David M. Hernandez, a member of Vedder Price’s Global Transportation Finance team, achieved an unprecedented withdrawal of a $1,025,000 FAA enforcement action against a Part 145 Repair Station (the Company). The FAA had alleged that the Company did not conduct pre-employment drug tests or receive verified negative drug test results, which were required prior to hiring 90 people to perform safety-sensitive functions between March 2007 and May 2008.
Mr. Hernandez argued that the case should be dismissed at the informal conference. The Company conducted the required tests, but the FAA took the position that the Company’s tests were invalid based on its interpretation of the regulations regarding the timing of such testing. However, Mr. Hernandez stressed that the regulatory history and applicable DOT regulations were extremely ambiguous regarding the validity and timing of the test results under the circumstances. More importantly, Mr. Hernandez added, there was never any threat to public safety. After deliberating the merits of the Company’s arguments for eight months, the FAA decided to withdraw the civil penalty letter on February 13, 2012.
The Company’s representative lauded Mr. Hernandez for his efforts, thanking him for the “stroke of genius” behind his defense. “The FAA’s withdrawal is unprecedented,” says Mr. Hernandez. “Never before has the FAA issued such a large civil penalty letter for these types of violations, only to withdraw it after the informal conference. Saving the client over a million dollars is always a good thing.”