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Sunday 21 September 2014

Travolta pilot wins right to sue over 'relationship'

Sam Masters

Published 24/07/2014 | 02:30

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Aside from his many iconic movie roles, John Travolta is known as a qualified airline captain who pilots passenger jets dressed in full uniform and sports an "Aw shucks" grin worthy of Chuck Yeager.

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But less well documented is his lengthy battle to silence a former pilot with his aviation company, who alleges that their relationship went beyond the professional.

Douglas Gotterba – who is trying to disclose what are described in court documents as details of "his personal and intimate relationship" with the star of 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Saturday Night Fever' – won the right to argue in a lawsuit that he holds no duty of confidentiality to the star and should be allowed to speak openly about his relationship with Travolta.

The case, involving one of America's most bankable stars, its most notorious tabloid newspapers and the ex-pilot has been discussed in increasingly threatening legal terms since 2012.

According to court documents filed at the Court of Appeal in California, Mr Gotterba worked for Travolta's aircraft company, Alto, for six years before leaving voluntarily in 1987, the year Travolta reportedly met his wife Kelly Preston while filming 'The Experts'.

The couple married in 1991 and had three children together.

What happened after Mr Gotterba left Travolta's employment is fiercely disputed.

Mr Gotterba, a professional pilot, says that a three-page termination agreement signed in March of that year with Alto did not contain any clauses that would prevent him from revealing personal information about his employer.

Mr Gotterba has alleged that his relationship with Travolta was more than professional. But Alto insists that a four-page "enforceable" termination agreement was signed in April and warned Mr Gotterba not to disclose personal "confidential or proprietary information".

Following Travolta's career revival after 'Pulp Fiction', Mr Gotterba decided to "tell the story of his life and those involved in it" and to reveal his relationship with Travolta, court documents show.

But Travolta's lawyer, Martin Singer, stepped in upon hearing that Mr Gotterba had "given statements" to the 'National Enquirer' and was planning to chart his time with Travolta in a book.

Travolta's legal team issued a motion attempting to stop Mr Gotterba. That was dismissed in California on Tuesday. The California court ruled that Mr Gotterba could make his case that he had not signed a confidentiality agreement, giving him the right to sue to speak openly about his relationship with the star. (© Independent News Service)

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