Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Update on Ray Lahr's Lawsuit


On Monday afternoon, April 5, 2004, Judge A. Howard Matz held the first Scheduling Conference in my new, revised suit, against the NTSB, CIA, and Boeing.  The minutes of the Scheduling Conference are now posted on the website under Court Documents.


We did not come away with a definite hearing date, but it looks like it will be this summer. 


We scheduled, and might file, a motion to take the testimony of Dennis Crider, the NTSB technician who, according to the NTSB, did all the zoom-climb calculations.  We don't yet know whether we have grounds to take his testimony, and if we file the motion it would prolong the case for probably a few months.  


I first tried to talk to Mr. Crider after the second public hearing in Washington , D.C. in August of 2000, when Captain Richard Russell and I approached the NTSB staff during the coffee break, and I asked to speak with Mr. Crider.  He came forward and I started to ask him about the graphs that he had prepared for the published Report.  Dr. Bernard Loeb, the NTSB's Safety Director, intervened and would not let Mr. Crider answer the questions.  We had a lively discussion, but they were adamant in their refusal to answer my questions about the zoom-climb.


After the hearing, I telephoned NTSB Chairman Jim Hall and asked permission to speak to Mr. Crider.  Mr. Hall said that he would authorize it, and notify Crider.  When I called Mr. Crider, he said that he had not received the authorization. So, a week later, I tried again, and Crider said he had still not received authorization.  


I contacted Mr. Hall again and repeated the request.  This time he referred me to Mr. James Wildey, Metallurgist.  I left Mr. Wildey two messages, and he never returned the calls.  Obviously, the NTSB was not going to willingly talk to me about the zoom-climb.

That was when I first initiated the Freedom of Information Act requests, in 2000. 


We had anticipated that Judge Matz would want to combine the cases against the NTSB and the CIA.  But, the government is claiming that the CIA will need six months or more to produce the requested record.  Judge Matz decided to move ahead with the NTSB case, and keep the CIA case on a separate time track.


It appears that the strategy of the defense is to stall and delay as much as possible, and it's a frustrating game.  But Judge Matz is a no-nonsense judge, and he is moving the new case along pretty fast.  


We will keep you posted. 





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  Robert E. Donaldson.  All rights reserved