Class Action Airport Noise Lawsuit Discussed With Homeowners

The attorneys for a group of Minneapolis and Richfield citizens who filed a class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Airports Commission reported the status of litigation at SMAAC’s annual Fall Forum Thursday night.
Robert C. Moilanen and Carolyn G. Anderson of Zimmerman Reed said the complaint, filed September 1, is that the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) failed to limit or mitigate aircraft noise as promised in 1996. Communities surrounding Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport agreed generally and specifically with the MAC to a supplemental (extended) residential sound insulation program, and homeowners were the “third-party beneficiaries” protected by the agreement.



The attorneys summarized their research to date, citing numerous documents and statements that “memorialize” the agreement, including detailed written contracts with Minneapolis and Richfield.

Homeowners quizzed the Attorneys and SMAAC Board Members about details. SMAAC President Jim Spensley said that the point, in 1996, of extending mitigation to the “60 DNL” in a noise map for “higher projections” of MSP use was to cover the unknowns and uncertainties in “65 DNL” noise exposure mapping. Moilanen said in his presentation that several lawsuits against the MAC, based on different complaints, suggested that something was seriously wrong. “It is unusual for municipalities and agencies to sue one another, and probably the Governor or the Legislature will weigh in.” He said that a Court Order is another possible outcome, and “It is a good thing that the judicial branch can remedy injustices caused by the legislative or executive branches of government.”

In their presentation, the attorneys explained how class actions work as “allowing many smaller claimants to jointly pursue a case they could not afford to litigate separately.” The airport commission’s responses to Requests for Admissions (a legal yes-no question defining areas of dispute) were given as an example of the work involved. Do you admit or deny that MAC’s statements to the public can be trusted? Was answered. “MAC objects to the question because .... “ followed by a long paragraph. Apparently public trustworthiness is stall a disputed matter.


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