In a recent case, the NTSB denied an airman’s request for reconsideration of its decision affirming an administrative law judge’s dismissal of the airman’s appeal from the Administrator’s order of suspension. The Board originally affirmed the ALJ’s determination that the airman’s appeal was filed late and held that the airman had not presented any evidence of good cause for the Board to accept the late appeal. In Administrator v. Beissel, the airman requested reconsideration of the Board’s decision claiming that “the Board applies its good cause standard unevenly, ruling more often in the Administrator’s favor than in a respondent’s favor.” The airman argued that Ramaprakash v. FAA and NTSB, 346 F.3d 1121 (D.C. Cir. 2003) supported his claim of uneven application of the standard.
Initially the Board noted that “the good cause standard requires that a respondent prove his failure timely to file a notice of appeal within the required time had a good cause” and that the reasons for the airman’s tardiness did not constitute good cause for his late filing. It went on to specifically address the airman’s claim of uneven application of the standard by stating “[t]his is a question of fact, specific to each case. Whether the Board is applying this standard uniformly to notices of appeal and appeal briefs is determined by reviewing other cases involving late filing of notices of appeal and appeal briefs, not by comparing this case with other, entirely different types of cases that also happen to use the good cause test.”
Finally, the Board noted that “Ramaprakash, infra, actually supports this conclusion, as the parties and the Court analyzed the reasonableness of our action in that case based on our actions in other stale complaint cases, not based on the universe of cases in which a good cause standard was used.” Although it probably seemed like a good argument for the airman to make, unfortunately, he took it out of context and made an apples to oranges comparison. The Board didn’t buy it and the airman was stuck with his 180 day suspension. Once again illustrating the necessity of filing an appeal in a timely manner. Although the good cause defense is available for an untimely appeal, the cases show that this is a difficult standard to meet.