The Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the firing of a former state pilot who claimed he was terminated after raising safety concerns about another pilot who allowed his son to fly the state plane.
Justices reversed a 2009 ruling by a lower court judge, who said the Nevada Department of Transportation was justified in terminating James Richardson.
District Judge James Todd Russell earlier said Richardson violated safety standards by not immediately reporting that an intern had over-revved the state's Cessna Citation.
Richardson was fired from NDOT in 2008 over the incident, but he was reinstated when a hearing officer overturned the termination. Richardson was fired a second time after Russell's ruling, which was appealed to the Supreme Court.
Justices reversed the district court and referred the case back to Russell.
NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said the agency is not pleased with the high court decision. "We are going to evaluate some of our options with the attorney general's office," he said.
Gary Phillips, the former chief pilot, was demoted and has since retired.
Besides allowing his son to fly the plane, Phillips was criticized by a hearing officer for flying the aircraft with dangerously low fuel reserves, including once in 2007 with Gov. Jim Gibbons on board.