Friends of The East Hampton Airport v. Town of East Hampton, No. 15-2334 (2d Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
The parties cross appeal the district court's grant in part and denial in part of a motion for a preliminary injunction to bar enforcement of three local laws restricting operations at a public airport located in and owned and operated by the Town of East Hampton, New York. The district court enjoined the enforcement of only one of the challenged laws—imposing a weekly flight limit—concluding that it reflected a likely unreasonable exercise of the Town’s reserved proprietary authority which is excepted from federal preemption by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 41713(b)(3). Plaintiffs contend that none of the challenged laws falls within the ADA’s proprietor exception to federal preemption because the Town failed to comply with the procedural requirements of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA), 49 U.S.C. 47521–47534, in enacting them. The court identified merit in plaintiffs’ ANCA argument and resolved these cross appeals on that basis without needing to address the Town’s proprietor exception challenge. The court concluded that plaintiffs (1) can invoke equity jurisdiction to enjoin enforcement of the challenged laws; and (2) are likely to succeed on their preemption claim because it appears undisputed that the Town enacted all three laws without complying with ANCA’s procedural requirements, which apply to public airport operators regardless of their federal funding status. The court affirmed the district court’s order insofar as it enjoins enforcement of the weekly flight‐limit law, but vacated the order insofar as it declines to enjoin enforcement of the other two challenged laws. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for the entry of a preliminary injunction as to all three laws and for further proceedings.