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Gross v. Nova Chemicals Services, Inc.
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
April 24, 2017
JOSEPH M. GROSS Appellant
NOVA CHEMICALS SERVICES, INC.
from the Order August 17, 2016 In the Court of Common Pleas
of Allegheny County Civil Division at No(s): GD16-008023
BEFORE: OLSON, RANSOM, JJ., and STEVENS, P.J.E.
M. Gross ("Appellant") appeals from the order
entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County
sustaining the preliminary objections filed by Nova Chemicals
Services, Inc. ("Nova") and dismissing his
complaint with prejudice. We affirm.
the following pertinent facts as averred in Appellant's
7. Plaintiff [hereinafter "Appellant"] began
employment with Defendant [hereinafter "Nova"] as
an at-will employee in or about November 2004 and continued
in such capacity of employment in the position of Chief Pilot
until May 13, 2014.
8. Appellant's final base salary with Nova was
approximately $321, 500 per year.
9. Appellant worked with a flight crew in his capacity as
Chief Pilot; this flight crew included, among others, two
10. The Federal Aviation Administration required two pilots
for the operation of Nova's aircraft.
11. As Chief Pilot, Appellant was primarily responsible for
the operation of the aircraft.
12. Under [the Federal Aviation Act (FAA)], 14 CFR 91.3(a),
the pilot in command is "directly responsible for, and
is the final authority as to the operation of the
13. Responsibility of the aircraft includes the safety of the
aircraft and its passengers; such safety depends upon the
ability of the pilot in command to properly communicate with
the flight crew, particularly a co-pilot.
14. If a pilot does not believe that he can responsibly
operate the aircraft, he has a duty to abstain from operation
of the aircraft.
15. In or around January 2014, an employee of Nova began
making frivolous and anonymous complaints against Appellant.
16. Nova investigated each complaint and found all to be
17. On or about March 5, 2014, employee and co-pilot Gale
Truitt and Appellant were operating a flight which, among
other passengers, included a Vice-President of Human
18. During the trip, Mr. Truitt approached the VP to ask why
no action had been taken against Appellant, revealing to all
parties that Mr. Truitt was the actor making the frivolous
complaints against Appellant.
19. After the March 5, 2014, trip, Appellant spoke with his
Human Resources contact, Denise McBride, regarding the
situation with Mr. Truitt and asked if any action would be
taken regarding the situation.
20. Ms. McBride replied that nothing would be done, and that
specifically Appellant was not to approach Mr. Truitt, as
Nova feared an age discrimination suit if Nova took any
action towards Mr. Truitt.
21. The situation between Mr. Truitt and Appellant became
increasingly difficult. Mr. Truitt's behavior towards
Appellant caused a breakdown in communication during flights.
22. This breakdown in communication, because of Nova
employee's behavior, led Appellant to become increasingly
concerned for in-flight safety.
23. Appellant expressed to Ms. McBride the communication
difficulties that were experienced and the concerns he had
24. Ms. McBride asked Appellant if he could continue to fly
with Mr. Truitt as a crew member; Appellant stated that for
safety, he ...
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