MAC lawsuit will go forward

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A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) over its alleged unwillingness to honor an agreement insulate homes against airport noise.

As Michael Metzger reports in the Southwest Journal, Judge Stephen Aldrich ruled in favor of five local homeowners who have argued that the MAC promised to provide insulation, air conditioning, and new windows and doors for residents in the 60–64 DNL (day-night level) in return for support for the airport’s expansion. “I want the MAC to live up to its promises,” said Warren Bowles, one of the five plaintiffs. “I don’t like the idea of being a part of an overly litigious society,” he added. “I don’t ever want to be part of a frivolous lawsuit. That’s not what this is about. In fact, I’m not thinking about getting great damages or anything, other than just having them live up to their promise.”

MAC officials argued that there was never a contract calling for insulation in the 60-64 DNL contour and had asked Aldrich to dismiss the suit. “It was never intended on our part to do the full mitigation package and treat a home five miles away as if it were located underneath the runway at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport,” said MAC executive director Jeff Hamiel. “That’s the critical issue in this whole argument.”

Attorney Bob Moilanen, who is representing the residents, said he has a document showing that the MAC agreed to spend $150 million on noise insulation in the 60-64 DNL and that he views it as a contract. “There’s nothing particularly vague about this agreement,” he said. “It says $150 million for homes between 60 and 65 DNL. But if [Hamiel’s] got some documentation where he’s telling the public that no, he didn’t really make that commitment, I’d love to see it.”

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