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NTSB General Counsel
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 NTSB General Counsel

The Office of General Counsel advises, assists and represents the Safety Board in support of its activities relating to transportation safety; and as sole legal advisor, has responsibility for determining legal policy for the agency. See The Independent Safety Board Act of 1974, as amended. The Designated Agency Ethics Official of the NTSB, who administers the Ethics program on behalf of the Chairman, is located in and supported by the Office of General Counsel.

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Documents relating to Docket CP-217: Huerta v. Pirker

Requests for Board Information for Legal Proceedings

No portion of a report of the Board, related to an accident or investigation of an accident, may be admitted into evidence or used in a civil action for damages resulting from a matter mentioned in the report. (49 U.S.C. § 1154(b)) Of course, a variety of material issued by or under the control of the Board or its employees may be of interest to private litigants and other individuals.

49 CFR 837 contains procedures to be followed when requesting material for use in legal proceedings (including administrative proceedings) in which the National Transportation Safety Board is not a party. Requests for material have been divided into two categories:

  • Requests for material contained in the NTSB's official public docket or its computerized database (see 49 CFR Part 801 for the types of documents routinely issued by the Board) are directed to Records Management Division (49 CFR § 837.3)
  • Requests for production of other materials in response to a demand of a private litigant, court or other authority should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel. (49 CFR §837.4)

Testimony of Board Employees

To ensure that Board employees are devoted to the investigation and study of safety issues and to ensure that the Board does not have undue influence on private litigation, particular limitations are placed on the testimony of Board employees. (49 CFR Part 835)

All requests for Board employees to testify must be addressed to the General Counsel, who approves or denies such requests. (49 CFR § 835.6)

A Board employee's testimony may be available for use in actions or suits for damages in the form of deposition testimony or responses to written interrogatories. Board employees may not appear and testify in court in such actions (49 CFR § 835.5(a)). See 49 CFR 835.5(b)-(d) for additional restrictions on depositions and testimony.

A Board employee may testify only as to the factual information they obtained in the course of an investigation. They will decline to testify regarding matters beyond the scope of their investigation and shall not give any expert or opinion testimony. (49 CFR 835.3(b))

Regulations Relating to NTSB Operations

NOTE: The most current edition of the Code of Federal Regulations can be accessed at the Government Printing Office's Federal Digital System (FDsys) website. Please refer to the FDsys website for CFR texts.

  • Jurisdiction: 49 U.S.C. § 1133
  • Rules of Practice in Air Safety Proceedings: 49 CFR Part 821
  • Organization and Functions of the Board and Delegations of Authority: 49 CFR Part 800
  • Public Availability of Information : 49 CFR Part 801
  • Rules of Procedure for Merchant Marine from Decisions of the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard: 49 CFR Part 825
  • Rules Implementing the Equal Access to Justice Act of 1980: 49 CFR Part 826
  • Notification and Reporting of Aircraft Accidents or Incidents and Overdue Aircraft, and Preservation of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail Cargo, and Records 49 CFR Part 830
  • Accident/Incident Investigation Procedures: 49 CFR Part 831
  • Testimony of Board Employees: 49 CFR Part 835
  • Production of Records in Legal Proceedings: 49 CFR Part 837
  • Rules of Practice in Transportation; Accident/Incident Hearings and Reports: 49 CFR Part 845
  • NTSB is considered a "Public Health Authority" for purposes of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). See specifically 64 FR 59956, Nov. 3, 1999 and 45 CFR Part 164.512(b)(1)(i)

Regulations Relating to Ethics Program

  • Standards of Conduct: 5 CFR Part 2635
  • Financial Disclosure Reports: 5 CFR Part 2634
  • Post-employment Restrictions: 5 CFR Part 2641