Judge dismisses Donald Trump’s lawsuit aimed at redirecting flights over his Palm Beach club
Trump plans to refile case against Palm Beach County
By Andy Reid, Sun Sentinel
11:06 PM EST, November 30, 2010
“The Donald” and his exclusive Palm Beach island club may just have to endure sharing airspace with Palm Beach International Airport.
Circuit Court Judge Joseph Marx has dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit aimed at redirecting flights from the county airport that the real-estate-tycoon-turned-TV-star deemed too disruptive for his Mar-a-lago Club.
Trump’s suit, filed in July, targeted the noise from passing airplanes, saying they were affecting Mar-a-lago’s property values as well as the ability to use the historic property.
His suit sought to bar flights over Mar-a-lago, stop proposed airport expansion and even accused Airport Director Bruce Pelly of “intentional battery” for refusing to shift flight paths or make other changes to lessen the disruptions.
“It was very far reaching,” Assistant County Attorney Andrew McMahon said about Trump’s lawsuit. “The issue of whether it is a ‘battery’ is way out there.”
While the judge dismissed the suit, he did leave open the option for Trump to file an amended version within 20 days.
Trump’s attorney James Beasley said Trump will re-file and keep pushing for changes at the airport.
“The current way that the county has flights out of the airport is creating a nuisance,” Beasley said. “If you were ever at Mar-a-lago when an airplane is going over, you can’t talk.”
Trump’s suit already has prompted the county to spend about $50,000 on hiring outside attorneys. If the case continues, the county’s contract with the outside firm calls for up to $500,000 in additional costs.
“Depending on how far [the case] goes, it will be costly,” McMahon said.
Trump’s suit argued that noise, vibrations and emissions from a steady traffic of passing aircraft were damaging the structure and the enjoyment of the oceanfront estate, just 2.5 miles from the airport’s runway.
Mar-a-lago, which means “sea to lake,” stretches over 18 acres from the Atlantic Ocean to the Lake Worth Lagoon. The crescent-shaped stone building with a 75-foot tower was built as a home for Post cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1927.
Trump bought the property in 1985 and converted it to a private club in 1995. He still has residence there, according to the lawsuit.
Trump argues that the county has refused to impose more noise-control measures at the airport, such as having flights fan out in different directions on takeoff instead of following a primary route that passes over Mar-a-lago. The county could also split its landings and departures to the east and west when conditions allow, and encourage jets to reduce power at takeoff, according to the suit.
The lawsuit contends that Pelly “improperly influenced” the FAA and air traffic controls to direct flights over Mar-a-lago because of past litigation Trump filed against the airport.
“The county and Pelly have avoided and circumvented and flouted the laws designed to protect and preserve Mar-a-lago,” according to Trump’s lawsuit.
Judge Marx disagreed and dismissed the suit against the county and Pelly.
The county takes its direction on flight paths and future airport expansion from the FAA, McMahon said.
“We can’t tell them how to route the flights,” McMahon said.