Texas Judge Dismisses Three Noise-Related Lawsuits Against Airport

JUNE 2, 1998

The Dallas Morning News (News, page 15A) reports that a judge last week dismissed three noise-related lawsuits by residents in Irving, Texas against the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport. The decision has prompted airport officials to seek dismissals of more than 200 similar claims. Meanwhile, a lawyer for some of the residents said he is considering whether to appeal or seek a new trial.

The article explains that residents in Irving began to file lawsuits in 1994, when the airport started a federally required program to identify and reimburse them for the effects of noise expected from a proposed runway on the airport's east side. Under the program, the airport bought out homes within certain noise contour boundaries around the proposed runway, and reimbursed residents farther out for devaluation of homes. Dozens of residents said they weren't paid enough, and other complained that they were left out of the program, the article says.

But last week, State District Judge David Gobney granted a motion filed by the airport to throw out three cases, offering no explanation of his ruling. On Monday, attorneys for the airport said they planned to use the ruling as the basis for seeking similar dismissals of the other 200 or so cases.

Meanwhile, Walter Leonard, an attorney for some of the Irving plaintiffs, said he was considering the next step on the three cases that were dismissed. He said, "At this point we're simply preparing to go ahead with the appeal, and we feel there are some serious questions with the blanket ruling that was made."

Joe Wilkinson, a party to one of the three dismissed cases whose home fell just outside the noise contour boundaries, said he expected to win on appeal, the article reports. He said, "This Godzilla is trying to walk on us out here, and we're going to keep fighting them till there's no fight left in us. We're very optimistic about what's about to happen. They know they've got problems."

Wilkinson added that the noise from the runway located 2,000 feet from his house has made his life miserable. "The noise level is like a freight train going through my attic," he said.