Hoefelman v. Conservation Com'n of Missouri Dept. of Conservation, No. 82-1733

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore LAY, Chief Judge, McMILLIAN and JOHN R. GIBSON; JOHN R. GIBSON; McMILLIAN
Citation718 F.2d 281
Parties32 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1773, 32 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 33,853 Allen C. HOEFELMAN, Appellant, v. CONSERVATION COMMISSION OF the MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION, et al., Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 82-1733
Decision Date05 October 1983

Page 281

718 F.2d 281
32 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1773,
32 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 33,853
Allen C. HOEFELMAN, Appellant,
v.
CONSERVATION COMMISSION OF the MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF
CONSERVATION, et al., Appellees.
No. 82-1733.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Submitted April 12, 1983.
Decided Oct. 5, 1983.

Page 282

Robert J. Swift, Jr., Carson, Monaco, Coil, Riley and McMillin, P.C., Jefferson City, Mo., for appellant.

Morris & Foust, Max W. Foust and Steven D. Steinhilber, Kansas City, Mo., for appellees.

Before LAY, Chief Judge, McMILLIAN and JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judges.

JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.

Allen C. Hoefelman appeals from the judgment of the district court 1 denying his claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. Sec. 621 et seq. Hoefelman was transferred from Chief Aircraft Pilot of the Conservation Commission to Equipment Supervisor when he reached age 60. He contends that the district court finding that age was a bona fide occupational qualification for pilots employed by the Department of Conservation was clearly erroneous. We affirm.

Most of the district court's findings are based on undisputed facts. Allen Hoefelman has been working for the Missouri Department of Conservation since January 1, 1948. In July 1962, he was appointed Chief Pilot of the Conservation Commission, which position was later changed to Aircraft Chief Pilot in July 1976. While he held the position of Aircraft Chief Pilot, Hoefelman flew low level flying missions while conducting wildlife surveys and fire patrols. He also frequently transported passengers.

In 1977 Hoefelman drew up an "Operations Manual" for the Conservation Commission, providing among other things that pilots who had reached the age of 60 would no longer be allowed to fly low level hazardous missions. Hoefelman included this provision because he thought that pilots age 60 and older had slower reaction time and increased fatigue, which would interfere with their ability to fly safely at low levels.

Subsequently, the Commission instituted an official policy prohibiting pilots above the age of 60 from flying Conservation Commission aircraft. The Conservation Commission did no independent research in formulating this policy, but solely relied on studies of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and adopted its age 60 limit. Although the FAA standards setting age 60 as the cut-off date were not meant to apply to other agencies, the Commission believed the FAA standards to be applicable because of the particular conditions under which its pilots fly. The Commission pilots do not fly with co-pilots, they carry passengers 75% of the time, and frequently engage in low level flying, which is more hazardous than other types of flying. The Conservation Commission adopted the age 60 limit solely out of concern for the safety of its own pilots and others who might be affected by their flying Commission aircraft.

At the time this policy was formally adopted in April 1981, Allen Hoefelman had already attained the age of 60 years. He was therefore automatically removed from his position as Aircraft Chief Pilot and was transferred to the position of Equipment Supervisor, a job which carried the same salary, grade and job benefits as his previous position.

This appeal concerns the findings of the district court on the effects of aging on pilots, based on conflicting expert testimony presented by depositions. The district court found that given the present state of medical knowledge, there is no way to predict whether particular pilots will be likely to become incapacitated during flight. It is, however, known that aging detrimentally affects the psychomotor functioning of pilots, impairing their ability to fly aircraft safely under certain conditions. The age of 60 has been chosen arbitrarily as the age when concerns about the pilot's ability to

Page 283

fly safely begin to outweigh the benefits of the pilot's individual experience and ability. This age limit actually favors pilots since the data available point to the age of 55 as being the date at which significant psychomotor deterioration begins to take place. Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm., 541 F.Supp. 272, 273-74 (W.D.Mo.1982).

In making these factual findings, the district court relied on the testimony of the Commission's expert witness, Dr. Earl T. Carter, a staff physician at the Mayo Clinic whom the court identified as a "specialist in aviation medicine." 2 Hoefelman, supra, 541 F.Supp. at 273, n. 1. Dr. Carter testified that although there are undoubtedly many pilots over the age of 60 who can fly safely, it was his opinion that with the present state of medical knowledge it is virtually impossible to determine whether individual pilots over the age of 60 are able to fly safely. Dr. Carter testified that Hoefelman's holding a valid First Class Medical Certificate issued by the FAA was irrelevant since the examination on which this certificate is granted cannot measure the effects of aging, and thus cannot predict whether a particular pilot is a safety risk.

The district court specifically rejected the testimony of plaintiff's expert witness, Dr. Stanley R. Mohler, an aviation medicine specialist at Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Mohler had testified that he could predict "with 99% certainty" whether a pilot would have a heart attack within two years after he examined him, and that psychological and psychomotor abilities of a healthy pilot do not necessarily decline significantly until the pilot reaches the age of 90 or more. The court gave as one of its reasons for rejecting Dr. Mohler's testimony the fact that Hoefelman himself had testified that he did not believe pilots over the age of 60 should be allowed to fly low-level missions because their reaction time was slower and they were more easily fatigued.

I.

The standards in age discrimination cases have been set forth in EEOC v. City of St. Paul, 671 F.2d 1162 (8th Cir.1982), and Houghton v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 553 F.2d 561 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 966, 98 S.Ct. 506, 54 L.Ed.2d 451 (1977). Following the rules stated in Houghton, the district court first concluded that the action of the Conservation Commission was a per se violation of ADEA since it was based solely on Hoefelman's age. The court then placed the burden of proving that age was a bona fide occupational qualification on the Conservation Commission as required by Houghton.

In Houghton we held that in order to establish age as a bona fide occupational qualification, an employer must demonstrate that either (1) the employer has a factual basis for believing that substantially all older pilots are unable to perform the duties of the job safely and efficiently, or (2) that some older pilots possess traits precluding safe and efficient job...

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  • Aromatique, Inc. v. Gold Seal, Inc., Nos. 93-3260
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • September 20, 1994
    ...S.Ct. 2497, 2508, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977)). The district court must weigh testimony of expert witnesses. Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm'n, 718 F.2d 281, 285 (8th Cir.1983). Anderson [W]hen a trial judge's finding is based on his decision to credit the testimony of one of two or more witnesses......
  • Craft v. Metromedia, Inc., Nos. 84-1336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 19, 1985
    ...States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S.Ct. 525, 542, 92 L.Ed. 746 (1948)); see Hoefelman v. Conservation Commission of Missouri, 718 F.2d 281, 285 (8th Cir.1983). We may not duplicate the function of the district court by making our own determination of the facts and reversing if we bel......
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred Intern. v. Holden Foundation Seeds, Inc., HI-BRED
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 14, 1993
    ...the strength of the testimony supporting the parties' respective views lies with the district court. Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm'n, 718 F.2d 281, 285 (8th Cir.1983); Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Auth. v. Tonolli Corp., 4 F.3d 1209, 1218 n. 7 (3d Cir.1993). Thus, we cannot say that the d......
  • U.S. v. Auerbach, No. 84-1160
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • October 1, 1984
    ...Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S.Ct. 525, 541, 92 L.Ed. 746 (1948)); Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm'n of the Mo. Dept. of Conservation, 718 F.2d 281 (8th 4 The converse of this proposition has been the subject of considerable extra-judicial commentary. See, e.g., Horace, Odes, III, 6:1 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Aromatique, Inc. v. Gold Seal, Inc., Nos. 93-3260
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • September 20, 1994
    ...S.Ct. 2497, 2508, 53 L.Ed.2d 594 (1977)). The district court must weigh testimony of expert witnesses. Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm'n, 718 F.2d 281, 285 (8th Cir.1983). Anderson [W]hen a trial judge's finding is based on his decision to credit the testimony of one of two or more witnesses......
  • Craft v. Metromedia, Inc., Nos. 84-1336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 19, 1985
    ...States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S.Ct. 525, 542, 92 L.Ed. 746 (1948)); see Hoefelman v. Conservation Commission of Missouri, 718 F.2d 281, 285 (8th Cir.1983). We may not duplicate the function of the district court by making our own determination of the facts and reversing if we bel......
  • Pioneer Hi-Bred Intern. v. Holden Foundation Seeds, Inc., HI-BRED
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 14, 1993
    ...the strength of the testimony supporting the parties' respective views lies with the district court. Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm'n, 718 F.2d 281, 285 (8th Cir.1983); Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Auth. v. Tonolli Corp., 4 F.3d 1209, 1218 n. 7 (3d Cir.1993). Thus, we cannot say that the d......
  • U.S. v. Auerbach, No. 84-1160
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • October 1, 1984
    ...Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395, 68 S.Ct. 525, 541, 92 L.Ed. 746 (1948)); Hoefelman v. Conservation Comm'n of the Mo. Dept. of Conservation, 718 F.2d 281 (8th 4 The converse of this proposition has been the subject of considerable extra-judicial commentary. See, e.g., Horace, Odes, III, 6:1 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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