Practices

Airport Litigation

We regularly handle litigation involving mission-critical and precedent-setting issues in airport law, including the respective powers of airports and host municipalities to control land use, the authority of airports to control noise and access to their facilities, inverse condemnation, the ability of airport proprietors to fund innovative capital projects, challenges to FAA decisions, orders and regulations, and the environmental and regulatory requirements for airport expansion projects.  In addition, we have considerable experience litigating airport compliance disputes before FAA.

We have appeared in courts from the United States Supreme Court and many federal appellate and district courts to state courts at every level as well as federal and state administrative agencies and tribunals.  We are comfortable in all phases of litigation from pre-filing planning to discovery, complex motions practice, trial and appellate briefing, and argument.  Recognizing that litigation is always costly and often uncertain, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell is always alert to settlement opportunities and has successfully negotiated litigation settlements that have achieved the client’s objectives without the expense and uncertainty of litigation.

Representative Cases

Supreme Court

  • American Trucking Associations v. City of Los Angeles, 133 S.Ct. 2096 (2013) (drafted amicus curiae brief on behalf of Airports Council International-North America to urge the Court to preserve the full scope of proprietary powers under the proprietor’s exception to federal preemption of state aviation laws)
  • Vacation Village v. Clark County, 244 Fed. Appx. 785 (9th Cir. 2007), cert. denied 128 S.Ct. 2956 (2008) (represented Clark County in Supreme Court certiorari petition after unfavorable ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)
  • McCarran International Airport and Clark County v. Sisolak, 137 P.3d 1110 (Nev. 2006) cert. denied 127 S.Ct. 1260 (2007) (represented Clark County in Supreme Court certiorari petition after unfavorable ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court)

Federal Appellate Courts

  • Independent Pilots Association v. FAA, Case No. 11-1483, Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (representing UPS pilots in challenge to FAA decision to exclude cargo carriers from flight time and duty rules; pending)
  • Southwest Airlines v. DOT, Case No. 15-1036, Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (represented the City of Dallas as intervenor in a challenge to DOT policy on competition and gate usage at gate-constrained airport; pending)
  • Town of Barnstable, Mass. v. FAA, 740 F. 3d 681 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (represented the Town of Barnstable in a challenge to FAA Determination of No Hazard regarding tall towers near Barnstable Municipal Airport)
  • Spokane Airport Board v. Huerta, Case No. 13-71172 (9th Cir. 2013) (acted as lead counsel in litigation brought by more than 40 airports with contract towers in a challenge to FAA’s decision to terminate funding for—and to close—150 contract towers at small- and medium-sized airports throughout the nation; dismissed as moot per Public Law 113-9)
  • Tinicum Twp., PA. v. U.S. Dep’t. of Transp., 685 F. 3d 288 (3d Cir. 2012) (represented City of Philadelphia as intervenor in successful defense of FAA’s approval of major capacity enhancement project at Philadelphia International Airport)
  • Town of Barnstable, Mass. v. FAA, 659 F. 3d 28, Court of Appeals (D.C. Cir. 2011) (represented the Town of Barnstable in a successful challenge to FAA Determination of No Hazard regarding tall towers near Barnstable Municipal Airport)
  • City of Santa Monica v. FAA, 631 F. 3d 550 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (challenged FAA decision that limited ability of airport proprietor to enact rules applicable to heaviest aircraft using the airport)
  • 41 North, 73 West, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t. of Transp., 408 Fed. Appx. 393 (2d Cir. 2010) (successful defense of FAA decision upholding airport proprietor’s authority to distinguish between types of FBOs in setting rates and charges)
  • Clark County, Nev. v. FAA, 522 F. 3d 437 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (successfully challenged FAA approval of siting of tall towers near end of proposed new airport runway)
  • Tutor-Saliba Corp. v. City of Hailey, 452 F. 3d 1055 (9th Cir. 2005) (successfully defended challenge to the airport’s runway weight restriction against Constitutional and statutory challenges by owner of a large private jet that exceeded the weight limit)
  • City of Naples Airport Auth. v. FAA, 409 F. 3d 431 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (successfully challenged FAA revocation of grant eligibility of airport proprietor for banning Stage 2 aircraft)
  • City of Bridgeton v. FAA, 212 F. 3d 448 (8th Cir. 2000) (represented City of Bridgeton in challenge to EIS for new runways through city parks)
  • City of Los Angeles v. FAA, 138 F. 3d 806 (9th Cir. 1998) (represented City of Los Angeles in challenge to EIS for new airport terminal
  • City of Normandy Park v. Port of Seattle, 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 30463 (9th Cir. 1998) (challenge to zoning requirements for airport expansion)
  • Grand Canyon Air Tour Coalition v. FAA, 154 F.3d 455 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (represented Las Vegas airport system in challenge to FAA Grand Canyon air tour overflight rule)
  • Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Auth. v. Burbank, 136 F. 3d 1360 (9th Cir. 1998) (represented the City of Burbank in multiple litigation matters related to the expansion of the airport and authority of local government to control land use in vicinity of airport)
  • Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. v. Busey, 79 F. 3d 1250 (1st Cir. 1996) (challenged approval of reuse of former military base)
  • City of Grapevine, Tex. v. U.S. Dep’t of Transp., 17 F. 3d 1502 (D.C. Cir 1994) (represented municipality in challenge to EIS for airport expansion)
  • State of Kansas v. United States, 16 F.3d 436 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (drafted brief for airport as intervenor defending the Wright Amendment against Constitutional challenges)

Federal Trial Courts

  • Nat’l Bus. Aviation Ass’n v. City of Naples Airport Auth., 162 F. Supp. 2d 1343 (M.D. Fla. 2001) (successfully defended ban on Stage 2 aircraft against Constitutional challenges)
  • City of Cleveland, Ohio v. City of Brook Park, Ohio, 893 F. Supp. 742 (N.D. Ohio 1995) (successfully represented City of Brook Park in defense of zoning regulations controlling airport expansion)

State Cases

  • No Night Flights Network v. Telluride Regional Airport Authority, Case No. 2011CV71 (Dist. Ct., San Miguel County, Colorado, Mar. 20, 2013) (successfully defended the Airport Authority’s changes to its nighttime airport curfew against state law challenges)
  • Afoa v. Port of Seattle, No. 85784-9 (Wash. Sup. Ct. Jan. 31, 2013) (drafted amicus curiae brief on behalf of Airports Council International-North America in support of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s effort to defend itself against suit by an injured employee of an airport licensee)
  • Trump v. Palm Beach County, Florida, Case No. 502010CA018444 (15th Cir. Fla. Aug. 30, 2011) (successfully defended sponsor in litigation seeking to enjoin the construction of a new runway and to obtain money damages for alleged damages from aircraft overflights)
  • Telnack v. Martin County, Florida, Case No. 04-459 (19th Cir. Fla. Mar. 5, 2010) (defeated class certification of a putative class of homeowners seeking damages for aircraft overflights)
  • Minnesota ex rel. City of Minneapolis v. Minneapolis Airports Commission (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2007) (represented City of Minneapolis in challenge under state Environmental Rights Act to sound insulation program at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport; secured settlement providing for sound insulation for 10,000 homes)
  • Continental Aviation Services, Inc. v. City of Naples Airport Auth., 29 Fla. L. Weekly D1236 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004) (successfully defended ban on Stage 2 aircraft against state law zoning and land use challenges)
  • City of Naples Airport Auth. v. Jet 1 Center Inc., Case No. 02-5010-CA-HDH (Fla. Cir. Ct. 2003) (obtained injunction against fueling by FBO for violations of airport regulations)
  • City of Burbank v. Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Auth., 113 Cal.App.4th 465 (Cal. Ct. App. 2003) (successfully represented City of Burbank in prosecuting a challenge to citizen-sponsored initiative on airport development)
  • City of Des Moines v. Puget Sound Regional Council, 988 P.2d 27 (Wash. Ct. App. 1999) (represented coalition of local governments in challenge to land use approval for new runway project)
  • City of Burbank v. Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Auth., 72 Cal.App.4th 366 (Cal. Ct. App. 1999) (successfully represented City of Burbank in defense of authority under state law to review acquisition of property for airport expansion)
  • Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Auth. v. City of Burbank, 64 Cal.App.4th 1217 (Cal. Ct. App. 1998) (represented City of Burbank in defense of transient parking tax)
  • City of Cleveland v. City of Brook Park, 659 N.E.2d 342 (Ohio Ct. App. 1995) (successfully represented City of Brook Park in defense of property acquisition adjacent to airport)
  • City of Irving v. Dallas/Fort Worth Int'l Airport Bd., 894 S.W.2d 456 (Tex. App. 1995) (represented municipalities in challenge to zoning applicable to airports)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Int'l Airport Bd. v. City of Irving, Texas, 854 S.W.2d 161 (Tex. App. 1993) (represented municipalities in challenge to zoning for airport project)

News & Publications

Presentations

33rd Annual AAAE Basics of Airport Law Workshop and 2017 Legal Update
10.17.17
ABA Forum on Air & Space Law Update Conference
02.26.16

Publications

Transportation Research Board's Airport Cooperative Research Program
March 2012
Transportation Research Board's Airport Cooperative Research Program
January 2008