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Sky-high airport litigation costs: City has spent $41,000 so far, KAA dedicated up to $100,000 

 

KINGMAN – Everyone knew it would be costly, but the legal battle between the city of Kingman and the Kingman Airport Authority is even more expensive at its inception because it is being fought in two different venues.

A city-initiated lawsuit is pending in Mohave County Superior Court while the Airport Authority has lodged a complaint in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

 

Daryl Williams, counsel for the city, noticed the city on Nov. 14 it would use its authority under eminent domain to condemn the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park and take control of the property.

Andrew Federhar, counsel for the Airport Authority, filed in federal court on Dec. 1, seeking an injunction against condemnation while arguing the option is not available to the city under the law.

Federhar said U.S. District Judge John Tuchi has directed the city to respond to his pleading by Dec. 22. Williams said he will consider the city’s various options, but does not want to delineate them or tip his hand in any way.

“I like to try my cases in the courtroom, not the press,” Williams said.

Similarly, Federhar is reluctant to indicate what the Airport Authority’s response will be to Williams’ formal condemnation filing on Dec. 5 in Mohave County Superior Court. Judge Steve Moss has set the matter for hearing on Dec. 15 in Lake Havasu City.

“There are a number of steps that the Airport Authority can take between now and the 15th and we will consider them, but we haven’t made any firm decisions yet about which of the legal options we’ll pursue,” Federhar said.

Both attorneys concur that the parties are far apart as the litigation begins.

“That’s what we have a court system for and that’s what we have judges for,” Federhar said. “So we’ll let our pleadings in the case state our arguments.”

Meantime, the meter is running as public money is expended on initial litigation.

City Attorney Carl Cooper told Kingman City Council members during their Dec. 5 Council meeting that the city had spent more than $41,000 so far, even before any hearing was held in either court jurisdiction. Likewise, the Airport Authority governing board voted Nov. 20 authorizing use of $100,000 in contingency funds to retain Federhar’s services.

While Council member Travis Lingenfelter fully supports the city’s litigation expenditures, he doesn’t believe the Airport Authority is equally entitled.

“I have real heartburn with them using public monies that are being generated from assets that belong to the citizens of Kingman,” Lingenfelter said during the Council meeting. “Those are not meant to be a war chest to fight the city.”

Federhar noted that the city and Authority are similarly situated.

“The Airport Authority is a public corporation just like the city of Kingman. We are charged with public duties and believe that we are carrying them out in the best interest of the public,” Federhar said. “For the city to come in and substitute its judgment for ours, we think is inappropriate.”

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