Yeager Airport Shares the Blame (and Costs) of its Landslide
The Yeager Airport landslide, occurring last March, has seen its latest legal development in US federal courts. The landslide, which among other things severely damaged a recent airport runway extension project, has left various parties litigating claims. Specifically, in a ruling by federal Kanawha circuit Judge James Stucky in response to an emergency filing made by legal counsel representing the Yeager Airport, has held that Yeager Airport should not be held entirely responsible for costs associated with the preservation of evidence in and around the site of the March landslide. This judicial ruling by the federal court stems from a prior claim made against the Yeager Airport by the Rebecca and Theodore Carter family in light of damage to their Keystone Drive residence following the landslide, which resulted in an emergency motion filing by legal counsel representing the airport. The resolution of this emergency filing, made by Judge Stucky, holds that fiscal expenses borne in the evidentiary and forensic data collection process must be shared by all parties involved in the sprawling amount of litigation relating to the landslide.
However, as argued by counsel for the defendants, determining the equitable sharing of forensic and evidentiary costs will prove problematic, if not adversarial and ultimately result in further legal action. For the Carters, who filed claims last June against the airport and a number of construction, engineering, and insurance companies for the loss of their home, Judge Stucky’s ruling also granted permission for the couple to include these additional defendants to the ongoing suit as well. For Yeager airport, the ruling also provides some measure of relief, as the liability for testing at the site of the landslide as it relates to ongoing litigation will now be at least partially borne by other parties involved, not merely the airport alone. Moreover, the Yeager airport itself is embroiled in litigation with nearly twenty different engineering, construction, and consulting companies in light of the destruction of the extension to the existing runway in the fallout from the landslide.
This most recent ruling from Judge Stucky follows a finding by Kanawha circuit judge this past July, in which the parameters and methods for evidence gathering and handling during the discovery period for all litigation related to the Yeager airport landslide will be shared amongst all litigants, at least in federal jurisdiction, presuming the Yeager landslide related cases remain under federal jurisdiction. In particular, counsel for the Yeager airport has argued for the state of West Virginia as the most legally appropriate venue, whereas plaintiffs and defendants embroiled in this case have generally sought redress and relief at the federal level.