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Orange County Digest

Countywide : Federal Judge Dismisses 3 Wayne Airport Suits

September 22, 1987

In a quick, anticlimactic ruling, a federal judge Monday dismissed three lawsuits involving Orange County's operation of John Wayne Airport, including one suit brought by the county itself 2 1/2 years ago.

Deputy Orange County Counsel Daniel J. Didier said the issues in the lawsuits had been settled previously, and as a result, "there was nothing controversial today."

Didier said the key suit dismissed by U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. in Los Angeles was a 1985 action brought by the county against the very groups that had been hauling it into court for years.

The county's suit sought to have one judge settle a variety of questions, including state environmental issues. The county argued that different judges were handing down different rulings, leaving airport operators uncertain where they stood.

Named as defendants were the nine airlines serving the airport, two airport-area homeowners groups, the City of Newport Beach, and the Federal Aviation Administration. The homeowners were dropped after reaching a compromise with the county to limit airport expansion. Newport Beach also agreed to the plan.

The airlines named had sought to either serve the airport or to gain more flights. Since 1985, two have been bought by other carriers, and others, such as United, now serve the airport.

"As a result of mergers and acquisitions, many of the issues became moot," Didier said. "There was nothing controversial . . . We just had to get everybody together."

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