Watson v. Air Methods Corp., No. 15-1900 (8th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Air Methods, in state court for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Air Methods removed to federal court and the district court, relying on this court's decision in Botz v. Omni Air International, dismissed the complaint. In Botz, the court construed the effect of the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 4173(b)(1), pre-emption clause on state whistleblower-protection laws. Although three circuits have disagreed with Botz in relevant part, the court concluded that plaintiff's claim cannot be distinguished from the second claim dismissed in Botz. Botz ruled that the plain language of section 41713(b)(1), bolstered by enactment of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (WPP), 49 U.S.C. 42121, pre-empted a whistleblower-retaliation claim based on reporting an alleged safety violation to an employer. Plaintiff argued that if Botz cannot be distinguished, then it should be overruled in relevant part. But one three-judge panel cannot overrule another. Plaintiff may raise this contention in a petition for rehearing en banc. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on August 31, 2017.