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October 22, 2014

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Airline, ex-employee lock horns in war-zone hazard pay battle

A former employee being sued by Vision Airlines has fired back at the North Las Vegas company.

In a federal court filing Wednesday, Gerald Hester said Vision sued him last month in retaliation for his January lawsuit alleging he and other crew members are owed hazard pay for flying dangerous missions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In response to Hester's lawsuit, Vision, without any factual basis, filed a retaliatory slap suit against Hester as part of its campaign to intimidate him into dropping his class action lawsuit," attorneys Ross Goodman of Las Vegas and David Buckner of Miami wrote in their filing.

Vision is a contractor providing charter services, and offers air tours.

Vision last month filed a conspiracy and racketeering lawsuit against Hester, former pilot Juan Salicrup Mayoral, former flight attendant Ronald Borz, former accounting assistant Gwen Carson and former pilot Daniel Carson.

Also sued were Mayoral's wife, Heleni Salicrup, and two companies Vision says the two control: Salko Enterprises Inc. and Salko International.

Vision charged the defendants have tried to undermine its business, misappropriated trade secrets and violated non-compete and non-disclosure agreements.

The defendants are accused of releasing confidential information and trade secrets to attempt to convince Vision customers and companies it does business with to enter into new contracts with the defendants and terminate their contracts with Vision.

Goodman and Buckner have moved that case from Clark County District Court to U.S. District Court, saying it presents several federal issues.

The former employee’s attorneys said Vision's lawsuit is a "classic shotgun" pleading in which "all factual allegations are asserted in all counts and no effort is given to separate one defendant from the other." Such pleadings violate judicial rules, the attorneys said.

In focusing on Borz, they said he was "fraudulently" named in the suit.

He was sued, the attorneys said, only because he is a resident of Nevada and only so the suit could be filed in state court.

Diversity of citizenship is a factor that can cause a case to be filed in or moved to federal court.

In this case, the attorneys charged: "Diversity exists between the parties because Borz was fraudulently joined to destroy diversity jurisdiction."

The other defendants live outside of Nevada, court records show.

Vision has not yet responded to the effort by Goodman and Buckner to move the case to federal court.

In the initial suit over hazard pay, the plaintiffs are seeking class action status and the case may proceed toward summary judgment motions or discovery after Vision this week lost a motion to have the suit dismissed.

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