ANN has been provided
with additional details on a story we presented several days ago,
about a pilot who recently prevailed in a
discrimination lawsuit against Connecticut based
According to counsel for the pilot, Captain Doyle Baker, the
trial lasted a solid three weeks. It resulted in a 12-person jury
returning a total verdict of $63,889,000 in Los Angeles Superior
Court, finding that the luxury air charter company PrivatAir had
unlawfully discriminated against Captain Doyle Baker by using his
age as a motivating factor in his termination.
Among new details emerging from this story is the report that
the jury also found that PrivatAir and flight crew members had
defamed and intentionally inflicted severe emotional distress on
Captain Baker, who served as chief pilot to movie stars Demi Moore
and Bruce Willis during his employment at PrivatAir.
"This verdict should remind all employers that refusing to treat
older employees fairly can be very costly," said Michael L. Kelly,
the lawyer who represented Captain Baker at trial.
"This company was more
concerned with the image they project to their wealthy clientele
than with giving a fair deal to an experienced employee with a
perfect flying record."
The suit, filed last year by the then-63-year-old Captain Doyle
D. Baker, alleged that PrivatAir violated the California Fair
Housing and Employment Act when it terminated his employment on
July 22, 2004. Willis and Moore had retained PrivatAir to manage
their Gulfstream II aircraft.
In the suit, Captain Baker claimed that PrivatAir, two other
pilots and a flight attendant had conspired to defame and inflict
severe emotional distress upon him.
A highly decorated veteran of 242 combat missions, and a pilot
with a perfect military and civilian flight record, he was
terminated by PrivatAir after a flight attendant serving on the
aircraft sent a letter to Willis, Moore, and PrivatAir accusing
Capt. Baker of serious safety violations and portraying him as
suffering from mental problems, feeble minded and too old to
continue to fly.
During pretrial discovery, the flight attendant admitted that he
had not written the letter, but that the other two pilots employed
by PrivatAir had.
Evidence was presented
at trial in support of Captain Baker's allegation of a conspiracy
among the flight crew, assisted by PrivatAir, to replace Captain
Baker with a younger pilot, who was a personal friend of one of the
The jury verdict, rendered in two phases in the Downtown Los
Angeles Courtroom of the Honorable Judge Joseph Kalin, awarded
Captain Baker back pay, future loss of earnings, pain and suffering
and emotional distress damages in the total amount of
$53,885,000.00 and subsequently rendered an additional award of
punitive damages in the amount of $10,014,000.00.
Captain Doyle Baker remains a highly qualified pilot in good
standing with the Federal Aviation Administration.