Florida Keys News
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Federal judge tosses Trauma Star ex-pilot's lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed Monday the lawsuit of a former Monroe County Sheriff's Office Trauma Star reserve pilot because the case was filed in the wrong court, according to the judge's finding.

U.S. Chief District Judge James Lawrence King tossed David Clark's lawsuit, essentially because he filed his claim in federal court when he should have filed it in state court, according to his ruling.

"Basically, he's (King) saying this is a jurisdictional issue and the federal courts have no jurisdiction because state remedies are available," said Monroe County Sheriff's Office attorney Patrick McCullah.

Clark was brought on board as a reserve pilot from June 28, 2011, to Feb. 12, 2012. During that time he applied for the chief pilot position, but was never granted the job. He was later fired after he told a supervisor he sold an airplane to a person who was later arrested on drug trafficking charges, according to court records.

Clark and another man had been in the business of buying and refurbishing seized aircraft that were sold by the sheriff's office and Drug Enforcement Administration, according to his attorney, Ware Cornell of Weston.

Clark claims he was fired in February 2012 due to age discrimination and due to sheriff's office allegations that he took part in those drug-smuggling operations, allegations that he denies.

Neither Clark nor the other man involved in the refurbished aircraft business was ever involved in drug trafficking, Cornell previously stated.

Whether Clark will file a similar lawsuit in state court remains to be seen.

"That's one of the subjects my client and I will be talking about," Cornell said. "The other option is to file an appeal (in federal court) and depending on how that goes, maybe we will file in state court. I'm not 100 percent sure what we will do, but we will do something."

Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Sheriff's Office Aviation Division Director Brooks Bateman were listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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