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Media Alerts - Friends of The East Hampton Airport, Inc. v. Town of East Hampton
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November 7, 2016
  Friends of The East Hampton Airport, Inc. v. Town of East Hampton
Headline: Second Circuit Enjoins Three East Hampton Airport Noise-Control Laws

Area of Law: Aviation Law

Issue(s) Presented: Whether a town must comply with the procedural requirements of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act when enacting new laws for its airport, even if it is willing to forgo future federal funding for the airport.

Brief Summary: In order to reduce airport noise at its local public airport, the Town of East Hampton passed three laws: (1) a mandatory curfew on airport use from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.; (2) an extended curfew on noisy aircrafts from 8:00 p.m. through 9:00 a.m.; and (3) a one round-trip limit-per- week on noisy aircrafts' airport use during a particular season. A group of plaintiffs, consisting of aviation businesses that use the East Hampton Airport, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeking an injunction against the enforcement of these laws. The district court enjoined one of the three laws, and both sides appealed. The Second Circuit ruled that all three laws should be enjoined because East Hampton had enacted them without complying with the procedural requirements of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990. The court rejected East Hampton's argument that it could avoid those requirements by disavowing future federal funding. To read the whole opinion, please visit http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/de...a5bc5a7cdb6/2/hilite/

Extended Summary: The Town of East Hampton owns and operates the East Hampton Airport, which has both domestic and international flights. Aside from public use, the airport also serves thousands of private aircraft flights. Over the years, town residents complained about the noise emanating from the airport.

In 2014, the Town held public meetings and conducted a three-phase study, focusing on the main sources of the airport noise and determining which times of the year generated the most noise complaints from town citizens. As a result, the Town enacted three new laws: (1) a mandatory curfew on airport use from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (2) an extended curfew on noisy aircrafts from 8:00 p.m. through 9:00 a.m. (3) a one round-trip limit-per- week on noisy aircrafts' airport use during a particular season. In so doing, the Town did not comply with the procedural requirements of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 ("ANCA"), which established a "national aviation noise policy" that applied to aircraft noise restrictions.

On April 21, 2015, five days after the Town enacted the laws, various aviation businesses filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the Town for declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the businesses sought to prevent enforcement of the laws, arguing that the laws violated the ANCA's procedural requirements. The district court enjoined enforcement of one of the laws, and both sides appealed.

At the outset, the Second Circuit found that the aviation businesses had equitable jurisdiction to challenge the Town's laws. The court then concluded that all three laws should be enjoined, because the ANCA's procedural requirements - which the Town acknowledged had not been followed--applied to any public airports, regardless of federal funding status. The Town's disavowal of future federal funding for the airport was thus irrelevant. The court also looked outside of the statute's text, finding that legislative history and other regulations also mandated the same result. Congress was concerned with the uncoordinated response to airport noise complaints, which led Congress to regulate noise control at the national level. Thus, since the laws did not comply with ANCA's procedures, they were federally preempted and subject to the preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiffs.

Panel: Circuit Judges Jacobs, Calabresi, and Raggi

Argument Date: 06/20/16

Date of Issued Opinion: 11/04/16

Docket Number: Nos. 15-2334-cv(L), 15-2465-cv(XAP)

Decided: Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded

Case Alert Author: Samantha Hazen

Counsel: Kathleen M. Sullivan, W. Eric Pilsk, Kaplan, Kirsch & Rockwell, LLP, David M. Cooper, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, for Defendant-Appellant-Cross Appellee, Lisa R. Zornberg, Helen A. Gredd, Jonathan D. Lamberti, Lankler Siffert & Wohl LLP, for Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants, Lauren L. Haertlein, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Amicus Curiae in support of Plaintiffs-Appellees-Cross-Appellants

Author of Opinion: Circuit Judge Raggi

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Emily Gold Waldman

    Posted By: Emily Waldman @ 11/07/2016 09:57 AM     2nd Circuit  

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