California Jet Owner Ordered to Pay Airport's Legal Fees

APRIL 9, 2004

A California construction tycoon who brought a lawsuit against Friedman Memorial Airport must pay the airport's legal fees, a federal judge ruled.

Ronald Tutor claimed that the airport in Hailey was violating his right to travel by refusing to allow his Boeing business jet to operate from the single-runway field. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill rejected Tutor's lawsuit in January, and on Tuesday ordered him to pay $159,038 in legal fees to the airport. "This makes my day," said airport manager Rick Baird.

The airport's insurance carrier, Royal and Sun Alliance, has already covered $600,000 in legal fees. Winmill refused the airport's request to have Tutor also cover the cost of expert witnesses. Tutor has ordered his attorneys to appeal Winmill's ruling.

Tutor claims the airport's aircraft weight limit of 95,000 pounds violates his right to travel. Tutor, CEO of Tutor-Saliba Corp. of Sylmar, Calif., has a vacation home north of Ketchum. He owns a 737-sized Boeing business jet as well as a smaller Gulfstream III jet. The Boeing business jet weighs about 171,000 pounds on takeoff and more than 100,000 pounds when landing. Tutor's Gulfstream jet is well below the weight limit at Friedman Memorial Airport.

Source: Associated Press