In Administrator v. Millenium Propellers, Inc., the NTSB has accepted both the FAA’s and the certificate holder’s timely filed appeal briefs even though the briefs were filed in the incorrect office. After the initial oral-decision of Judge Mullins ordering a 6-month suspension of Millenium’s repair station certificate, both parties appealed. The FAA sent its appeal brief to Judge Mullins’ office, as opposed to the office of administrative law judges in Washington, D.C. as required by NTSB Rule 821.7. Millenium then moved to dismiss the FAA’s appeal based upon the improperly addressed filing. In response, the FAA pointed out that Millenium had also incorrectly addressed its appeal brief.
The Board began its analysis by reciting its strict adherance to its policy of dismissing untimely notices of appeal and appeal briefs absent good cause or a timely request to file one out of time. It then went on to state that the strict policy does not necessarily extend to timely filed but mis-addressed documents, especially in light of the fact that the Board has at least three different offices that could be the proper recipient of documents filed in an enforcement proceeding. The Board then held that “[f]iling of a document with the wrong one of these offices, although inconvenient for the staff of those offices, is not generally the sort of non-compliance with the Board’s regulatory procedures that calls for dismissal in a non-emergency proceeding.” However, with respect to emergency proceedings, it went on to state that “strict adherence might be appropriate in a case where the expedited time limits for emergency proceedings were applicable.”
It is important to note that this case involved appeal briefs that were both “timely” filed. The result would have been quite different if the appeal briefs were not timely filed. Under those circumstances, absent good cause or a previously granted request for more time, the appeals would have likely been dismissed consistent with the Board’s strict policy. Finally, also keep in mind that the Board may not have accepted the mis-addressed appeals if the case had been brought as an emergency proceeding.