Third lawsuit in a Week over Noise at Florida Airport's New Runway


Broward County was hit with its third lawsuit in a month this one in federal court by homeowners fed up with loud, low-flying aircraft headed to the new runway at the county-owned Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

In decades of litigation leading up to the controversial runway's construction at the airport, much of the focus was on homeowners in the Melaleuca Gardens neighborhood of Dania Beach, just south of the airport. Now that the runway is open, the swath of those impacted by airplane flyovers is larger, drawing in thousands of homeowners in Hollywood, Dania Beach, and Fort Lauderdale who live west of the airport.

In the latest case, filed Sept. 1, lawyers from three firms joined together, seeking class action status for all homeowners in the new flight paths. Attorneys Cullin O'Brien, Sue-Ann Robinson, and Zeljka Bozanic argue that the residents are exposed to "extreme noise pollution" that interferes with their ability to "use and enjoy their properties."

The named plaintiff is Noy Hadar, owner of two-story home in the Maple Ridge neighborhood of Hollywood, just south of Griffin Road. "He cannot even take a phone call in his house without getting interrupted by a plane that basically flies right over him every two or three minutes on some days," attorney Zeljka Bozanic said. "Before the south runway opened, there was no noise whatsoever."

"When there's a noisy flight path that makes it unbearable on your premises, that can constitute a taking," O'Brien said. "When you have 727 engines as your new neighbors, something needs to be done."

The federal case was assigned to Judge Donald Middlebrooks in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach.

Aviation Director Kent George referred comment to the county attorney's office, but has said in the past that flight patterns are the domain of the Federal Aviation Administration. Assistant County Attorney Tony Rodriguez declined comment, saying the county had not been served with the lawsuit.

The new $800 million runway, on the airport's south side, opened a year ago and typically carries about 30 percent of the 600 flights a day. But the county has been slow to soundproof homes, and only Tuesday hired a company to launch promised programs to compensate homeowners in the nosiest zones.

On Aug. 5, a team of lawyers from three firms filed two lawsuits in Broward circuit court, one on behalf of homeowners who were denied sound-proofing, and a second lawsuit on behalf of those who were approved but haven't gotten it yet. Attorney Stephen Malove said the team will blanket the community, some 24,000 homes, with letters seeking homeowners affected by the new runway's air traffic.

Source: Sun Sentinel