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Fired Pilot Denies Drug Smuggling Conversation With Supervisor, Files Lawsuit

April 12, 2014 - David Clark, 56, a former Monroe County Sheriff’s Department emergency air ambulance helicopter (Trauma Star) reserve pilot had filed an age discrimination suit against the Sheriff’s Department in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida in March 2013 after being fired. 

A year later the court dismiss the case (Case No. 13-10053) as the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department could not be sued because it is, was not a legal entity subject to suit. It has been well settled that a sheriff’s department or sheriff’s office is not a legal entity subject to lawsuits. 

As a result Clark filed a revised lawsuit (4:14-cv-10026) in which he has filed a suit against his supervisor, Brooks Bateman who is the Director of Flight Operations and Monroe County Sheriff, Rick Ramsay. 


Clark gained employment with the sheriff’s department on June 28, 2011 as a part-time employee as reserve pilot, he remained employed until February 12, 2012. During his employment Clark alleges he was promised the next available full time pilots position. Clark stated that in early February 2012 he had told fellow workers that he believed he was the victim of discrimination on account of his age after he was Passover by a younger pilot. Clark’s words soon spread to his supervisor.

Court records indicate Clark’s supervisor then contacted the Director of Human Resources and stated “On February 9, 2012, I had a conversation with Director Donna Moore in regards to R3 Reserve David Clark. Clark has sent an email to me in regards to filing a slot. Clark had stated to Director Moore that I had promised him the next pilot position. I explained to Director Moore that I had said no such thing. Director Moore advised me to contact Clark and let him know that I would not be selecting him.

“In or about October 2011, during a telephonic conversation with Clark, he stated that he along with another pilot (Airborne Express B767 Captain and used to live on Plantation Key) would acquire, fix-up, refuel to capacity, and sell aircraft to the "smugglers" and in return receive paper grocery bags full of money. According to Clark, this was not a one-time event.



"On February 10, 2012, in response to my conversation with Director Moore, I emailed Clark to "Please call me today. On February 10, 2012 at approximately 2:00 pm EST, Clark telephonically contacted me at the hanger. I explained to Clark that I would not select him for a pilot position. Clark asked why, and I asked him if he wanted to open this door. He stated, "Yes". I reminded him of our conversation of the aforementioned, and he responded with, "that was over 40 years ago...I was just a kid working on my A&P" or words to this effect.

"Clark then stated "I knew what was going on but I didn't have a direct hand in it" or words to this effect. Clark, "I can't believe this" or words to this effect. Clark then asked "Did Terry Miller put...." Or words to this effect. I responded that this was "my decision, not the Colonels, not Director Moor, and not Terry Miller, it was my decision alone" or words to this effect. Clark then stated, "You took the wind right out of me" or words to this effect. Clark, then asked, "is there anything I can say to you to change your mind" or words to this effect. I stated, "No... I made my decision" or words to this effect.

“At about this time, Trauma Star was alert toned and I advised Clark I had to go as I was the duty pilot. After my flight I received the following email narrative from Clark. Brooks - Needless to say how shocked I as to hear your decision after completing the employment process in hopes of working for MCSO. I honestly do not remember what I said to you nor when but believe you have a false impression and would hope you would agree to a face to face meeting. You can ask any question and if it does not change your mind, I will accept it and walk away. Let me know.

Clark asserts he did not have a conversation with his supervisor in regards fixing aircraft and selling them to drug smugglers. Thant this only surfaced when he complained about age discrimination. That if his supervisor believed this as a police officer he should have opened an investigation and that there is no evidence that such a conversation took place. Clark asserts his rights were violated when these allegations became public and then he was not afforded due process in responding to these allegations as required under the 14th amendment.

In a sworn affidavit, Clark’s supervisor stated that “during the hiring process for a Chief Pilot position, I spoke to Mr. David Clark regarding the background process and the starting salary. Mr. Clark advised me that he would only accept a salary of $90,000, well in excess of what the Sheriffs Office was willing to pay.

“Fortunately, a far more qualified candidate, Terry. Miller, and two other individuals also applied for this position. Mr. Miller is a US Naval Academy Graduate, career US Naval Officer and Naval Aviator with nine years of emergency medical experience, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Certificate, street level law enforcement experience as well as airborne law enforcement experience with another Florida Sheriff's Office. Mr. Miller agreed to the starting salary and was ultimately selected.

“Subsequently, I telephonically offered a line pilot position to Mr. Clark. He did not accept the position. He stated that he would only accept a starting salary of $75,000.00 dollars. I then contacted Robert Johnson, a 15 years S-76 Instructor and veteran pilot. Johnson accepted the position.

“Approximately two weeks later, Mr. Clark contacted me telephonically and said he had changed his mind and would like to accept the position. I explained to Mr. Clark that we had already hired a pilot for the position.

"In October, 2011, Mr. Clark advised me that, in the past, he and a another person would purchase, outfit, repair, refuel, and sell aircraft to drug smugglers and in return would receive paper grocery bags full of money. I found this very disturbing for someone seeking a position with a law enforcement agency.” (see Ex-Pilot's Lawsuit Against Monroe County Sheriff's Aviation Department Tossed Out)
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