Pilot Gets $54 Million in Suit
Fired and Fighting Back
A 64-year-old California pilot, who made his living for nine years flying the Gulfstream II owned by actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, has received a star-quality award by a Los Angeles jury. The jury found that Doyle Bakerís age (63 at the time) was the sole motivation for his termination by Connecticut-based PrivatAir Inc. The jury also found that the company and three of its employees had defamed Baker prior to firing him in July of 2004. The jury awarded Baker $53.8 million. Willis and Moore owned the plane but used various management companies to run it. Baker became an employee of those companies.
In 2002, PrivatAir took over the contract and, according to The Los Angeles Times, the jury was told that company officials wrote letters to the FAA, Willis and Moore alleging he had medical problems and attacking his competence in the cockpit. The jury sided with Baker and may add punitive damages to the award. Moore and Willis were not named in Bakerís suit. Thereís no immediate word on an appeal but it would seem likely.