Two Puzzling Verdicts
Towards the end of our first small claims case in
2018, the defense loudly and triumphantly announced federal section 47506 in the courtroom. Simply put, the federal law said one had to have acquired one's home before 1980 in order to file a claim against an airport. The judge ruled in favor of the few in our group whose public records verified their pre-1980 home-ownership, denying compensation to those who lacked that proof. Something didn't add up, but never did it occur to us that the City and County of San Francisco's (CCSF) defense would make such an egregious and wrong claim.
Subsequent research uncovered enough articles and quotes regarding the federal law to ask ourselves: We weren't filing a case in federal court against a federal entity, so why was a federal law introduced? With this information, we filed again in 2019. The same judge who was assigned to our first case repeated her 2018 rulings; only those who'd bought their homes before 1980 were awarded compensation.
Further research unearthed Federal law code 49, section
41713, (b) (3), that says federal law DOES preempt a
state from carrying out its propriety powers and rights when airport issues involve prices, routes, and services. HOWEVER, Federal law does NOT preempt airport proprietors from carrying out their duties involving runway noise.
The Judicial Council of California, who makes and
oversees the rules and regulations of California
courts, provided this written statement:
"If the small claims court is handling a state issue, federal statues would not apply or be binding on the small claims court."
Postponed from our original scheduled hearing in October 2020,
our 3rd round small claims hearing is now calendared for April, 2022.