Lawyer Files Mass Tort Claim Against City of Santa Monica for Jet Noise

JULY 25, 2016

A Santa Monica lawyer, Jonathan Stein, has informed the City of Santa Monica manager, Rick Cole, that he is filing 8,473 claims against the city for operating a nuisance at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. Under state law a claim for damages must be submitted to the city before legal action can be taken in a court of law.

Stein says the jet noise and other pollution at the airport constitutes a nuisance. He cites a lawsuit against the city filed by the city manager himself in which the jury declared that jet aircraft at the city's airport is a public nuisance that "substantially and unreasonably interferes with Plaintiff's free use and enjoyment of his or her property."

Stein's entire letter is below.

"Re: Initial Claims Filing for Lawsuits Against Santa Monica Airport

"Dear Mr. Cole:

"This letter is the initial claims filing under the California Government Claims Act, Cal.Govt.Code 900 et seq, to put the City on Notice of the claims of up to 8,473 homeowners and up to 33 schools, for public nuisance created by jet flight operations at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (the "Airport").

"In Cole v. Santa Monica, LASC Case No. SC-055183, a jury verdict found "jet-powered aircraft operations at Santa Monica Municipal Airport" to be a public nuisance that "substantially and unreasonably interferes with Plaintiff's free use and enjoyment of his or her property." This ruling with passage of time is now a final judgment and res judicata that binds the City to the judicial determination of public nuisance.

"Since 2002, the same jet operations that are a public nuisance have grown a startling amount. They now exceed the Airport's avigation easement over these 8,473 homes (the "Impacted Homes"). The Impacted Homes are situate in Sunset Park, Ocean Park, Venice, Mar Vista and Westdale, among other places.

"The Impacted Homes are not all. Also impacted are over 30 schools, as well as the residents and young student that inhabit both homes and schools.

"This is an initial claims filing for inverse condemnation, damages (loss of and/or damage to property and personal injury) from continuing public nuisance that is specially injurious to claimants. Each of the 8,473 claimants who own real estate in the vicinity of the Airport have suffered a taking of property, either through the diminution of value of such property or the constructive total taking thereof. Further, each claimant (without regards to property ownership) has suffered harm, including, without limitation, physical and emotional distress.

"An 'avigation easement' is an easement obtained by airport authorities, through purchase or condemnation or inverse condemnation, and used to provide clear access for low-flying aircraft on the glide path. In our case, jet-powered aircraft operations have now grown to such an extent that they now exceed the existing avigation easement and so constitute a public nuisance, as well as an inverse condemnation of private property.

"Damages exceeding $100,000 to the fair market value of each home, as well as additional amounts for young students and residents exposed to ultrafine particulates (which cause cancer in various parts of the body), are being caused by the City.

"Using this average calculation as an estimate, total damages would be over $847 million for homes alone. Should only 10% of the homeowners, or 10% of the impacted schools, press their claims, the potential damages to the City would exceed $100 million.

"Unfortunately, City Attorney Marsha Moutrie, who was the City's lead attorney who lost this litigation in 2002, has buried the final judgment and its binding effects from consideration by the City Council and the public. Instead, their attention is focused elsewhere. As usual, the impacts on residents have been ignored, and the financial benefit of Atlantic Aviation and other special interest at the Airport favored. This initial claims filing will hopefully change the status quo.

"Very truly yours,


"By Jonathan Stein"