KAA’s motion to dismiss airport lawsuit denied
KINGMAN – A motion to dismiss the case of City of Kingman vs. Kingman Airport Authority was denied by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steve Moss and an evidentiary hearing has been set for March 21 in Lake Havasu City.
After drawing all factual inferences in favor of the city, Moss said the court could not enter an order dismissing the complaint as requested.
Attorney Daryl Williams filed a complaint on behalf of the city in December to take immediate possession of Kingman Airport through eminent domain, attaching the lease agreement with the city, a federal complaint and resolution from the city to take back the property.
Kingman Airport Authority, represented by attorney Andrew Federhar, filed an opposition motion to dismiss, and also filed to have the case heard in federal court. It was sent back to Mohave County.
Judge Moss heard oral arguments Feb. 16, with Federhar asserting that Kingman’s complaint fails to state a claim for relief. The complaint does not allege how Kingman will put the land to a “more necessary public use,” the attorney noted.
The airport authority’s attorney went on to assert that the Arizona Supreme Court has held that airport authorities are equal to and independent from municipalities, as they are body politics who engage in essential government functions. As a result, KAA contends that it is not subject to Kingman’s condemnation power.
Williams alleges that KAA is a mere instrumentality of Kingman, which is “free to destroy or reshape as it wills.”
Kingman alleges that a municipality’s condemnation of a public service or quasi-municipal corporation’s property means the property is being put to a “higher and better use,” even if that use is the same.
Kingman Airport Authority supplemented its motion for preliminary injunctions with citations to the code of federal regulations that outlines the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority over changes in airport operation.
“The City has not consulted with KAA about how to transition the airport and the City has not obtained approval from the FAA to operate the airport,” the motion states.
“If the City is allowed to proceed with its efforts to condemn the airport, and it is for whatever reason successful, the public will be injured because the City is not authorized to operate the airport. The public’s best interest is therefore for KAA to continue to operate the airport.”