Monterey Airport District Pays Lawsuit Lawyer Fees

MRYMonterey airport district agrees to additional payment in settlement with environmentalists’ lawyers Other side’s lawyers get $545,000, bringing total to more than $1 million (CalPilots Editor’s Note: Maybe these facts show what these types of lawsuits are really about)..

The Monterey Peninsula Airport District voted Wednesday morning to pay environmentalists’ lawyers an additional $544,750 as the result of a two-year legal battle.

It has already paid the same attorneys representing the Highway 68 Coalition $463,000.

The district settled with the coalition in mid-August over plans to add safety features to Monterey Regional Airport, including a federally mandated project intended to prevent landing aircraft from overshooting the runway.

As part of the settlement, the district agreed to pay all of the coalition’s attorney and consultant fees. On top of an earlier payment of attorney fees, made after a judge sided with the group, the total comes to more than $1 million.

“This is a travesty for the community,” district board member Mary Ann Leffel said.

Alexander Henson, attorney for the coalition, said the lawsuit and settlement were part of a “travesty” of errors on the district’s part at the start of the project.

“(The project) has been greatly benefited by our services,” he said.

Henson and attorney Richard Rosenthal argued in court the district did not properly explain plans for a new access road, extension of a runway plateau or the movement of more than 140,000 cubic yards of dirt needed for a crash pad.

Airport manager Tom Greer said the money would be paid out of the airport’s enterprise fund, revenues earned through leasing to airlines, gate fees and office rentals.

He said the account has roughly $4 million in it right now. The district is going to look into whether an FAA grant can be used toward the legal fees.

Greer said the next steps are redesigning the project to fit with the settlement and complete a revised environmental impact review.

He said the district hopes to begin the $46 million runway extension project by Spring 2014.