Round One - The Judge's Verdicts
PLEASE NOTE: WE FEEL AS OF NOVEMBER 1, 2019, WE HAVE CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT THE FEDERAL CODE MENTIONED BELOW DOES NOT APPLY TO LOCAL AIRPORT NOISE CLAIMS.
At the Redwood City verdict hearing on August 27, 2019, Judge Mazzei announced her decision on the 39 claims that were presented in small claims court two months earlier. She found 9 claims in favor of the plaintiffs; 30 claims were ruled in favor of the defense, the City and County of San Francisco.
The thorn in our side was a federal code created about 40 years ago- Federal Statute USCS 49, Section 47506 - that, to briefly summarize, says no one in the US who bought a home from 1980* on is allowed to file an airport noise claim unless certain aspects of the airport had changed. That's the simple version with a knotty term built in: Federal Preemption, meaning the US goverment has the final say.
The nine who "won" lived in homes purchased almost 40 years ago. The judge awarded them the modest monetary amount they had requested.
This confusing code rules out renters, people who can't afford to buy a home, people who moved here after 1982, and, in essence, people generally under 70 years old. One could presume it refers to overhead flights only. In addition, the California Supreme Court has ruled that federal preemption of a local regulation of airport noise is not absolute and that a nuisance cause of action arising from aircraft noise is not preempted by federal regulation of aviation.
We are planning on legal consultation in the next week or two.
Round Two participants will receive information on the many aviation cases in the US where "federal preemption" was ruled not appropriate and the Federal Aviation Authority's position. If claimants can stress these points to our next judge, ideally s/he will not make decisions based on this code.
*In our case, homes can be ones purchased through 1982