Court Filings

119-cv-01407-EGB 2019-09-13 COMPLAINT (KANDI ARNHOLD, et al. vs. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)

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  1 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF FEDERAL CLAIMS KANDI ARNHOLD & DAVID ZIMMERMAN, JENEAN BOGGS, STEVEN & HARRIET BORTON, WARREN & CHERYL CAVENESS, SUE CORLISS, PAUL FIRSTAHL & TERESA LIGTENBERG,  NANCY & ED FOX, MARK & APRILE GAUDINIER, CATHIE HARRISON, MONTE S. HULL & GARY L. HULL, THOMAS & HEIDE ISLAND, JOHN & VICTORIA KINGSTON, JUDY LEWIS, PAUL & MARGARET MCDOWELL, BARBARA NICHOLS, EVELYN NOVAK, ROBERT PEETZ, MARGE PLECKI & MICHAEL KING, BRADLEY PORTIN & MARK WICKS, WILLIAM & PAMELA SCHROEDER, LAUREL SEYMOUR, BONNIE SHAW, REBECCA WOOD, and MELVIN & JANET ZYLSTRA For Themselves and as Representatives of a Class of Similarly Situated Persons, Plaintiffs , v. THE UNITED STATES,  Defendant  .  No.Judge: ___________________ 19-1407 L Receipt number AUSFCC-5641115 Case 1:19-cv-01407-EGB Document 1 Filed 09/12/19 Page 1 of 36    2 CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT FOR JUST COMPENSATION 1.   This is a suit under the Fifth Amendment by the owners of more than 30 properties located near a tiny landing strip known as Outlying Field Coupeville (“OLF Coupeville”). The Complaint alleges a physical taking without just compensation of Plaintiffs’ homes and real  property by reason of the Navy’s recent, nearly 400 percent increase in Field Carrier Landing Practice (“FCLP”) operations at the airfield. The taking occurred in early 2019, when the Navy  began to implement its decision to ramp up operations out of OLF Coupeville that will ultimately result in 24,100 annual flights circling these neighborhoods at low altitudes every year. The operational increase was approved when the Navy issued a final Record of Decision to significantly expand its operations out of the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and OLF Coupeville on March 12, 2019. Since then, the Navy has started incessantly flying EA-18G Growler aircrafts out of NAS Whidbey Island, including the practice of touch-and-go landings at OLF Coupeville, endangering residents and depriving those closest to the airstrip of the complete value of their homes and properties. The high and unhealthful levels of noise and vibrations associated with the Navy’s new flight operations, coupled with the danger of living in and near areas that the Navy itself has identified as unsuitable for residential use in light of the danger of a deadly jet crash, has deprived Plaintiffs of the use and enjoyment of their property, a Fifth Amendment taking for which they have received no just compensation. Accordingly, plaintiffs seek by this lawsuit just compensation for the taking. THE PARTIES 2.   Plaintiffs owned homes and real property, as of March 12, 2019, in or near the Admiral’s Cove neighborhood outside of Coupeville, Washington and in other areas immediately surrounding OLF Coupeville on Whidbey Island. The Admiral’s Cove neighborhood is located less than 5,000 feet from the end of the runway at OLF Coupeville and lies just beneath the final Case 1:19-cv-01407-EGB Document 1 Filed 09/12/19 Page 2 of 36    3 approach or initial takeoff path. Jets approaching the OLF fly at very low altitude directly over the neighborhood when performing FCLP training, invading the properties with noise and vibration, sometimes into the late hours of the night, and imposing a very real danger of a jet accident. 3.   Plaintiffs bring this claim individually on their own behalf, and on behalf of the thousands of Whidbey Island property owners who are similarly situated. Specifically, the named  plaintiffs are as follows: 4.   Kandi Arnhold is a 55-year-old woman who runs a consulting business that supports mental health therapists out of her home at 1256 Halsey Drive in Admiral’s Cove. She  purchased her home with her dear friend David Zimmerman just over a year ago in May 2018 when Mr. Zimmerman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Following that devastating diagnoses, he expressed a desire to live in a peaceful area. Coupeville fit the bill. When Ms. Arnhold bid on the home on Halsey Drive, there was lots of competition. But Ms. Arnhold had no idea that the jets would fly directly over her home or that the jets would be as noisy as they are. Had she known the impact of the new operations at OLF Coupeville on her ability to enjoy her  property, Ms. Arnhold would have considered buying a different home. Ever since the new jet traffic started to become a reality this spring, Ms. Arnhold’s ability to work from home has been impaired. The sound of the war planes flying as low as 200 feet directly over her home on a 60 to 90 second cycle makes focusing impossible. Ms. Arnhold has had clients consider not using her services since they are unable to speak with her due to the noise when the jets are flying. Ms. Arnhold has also suffered increased anxiety and sleep deprivation since the new Growler plan commenced, particularly when the jets fly at night into the early hours of the morning. This loss of sleep has affected her business, her health, and her relationships. Beyond the work-related disruptions, Ms. Arnhold has been deprived of the general enjoyment and use of her property since Case 1:19-cv-01407-EGB Document 1 Filed 09/12/19 Page 3 of 36    4 she cannot walk her dogs, garden, or even be outside when the Growlers are circling overhead. She is concerned about the health of her dogs who cower when the planes fly and are constantly stressed and shaking. She does not believe that she would even be able to sell her home and move, which she wants to do, as a result of the constant overhead flights. 5.   Jenean Boggs resides at 1289 Russell Drive in Admiral’s Cove. She purchased her home in July 2017 due to affordability and location close to her workplace. When Ms. Boggs  purchased her home, she had no idea that the Navy would dramatically increase the flights out of the OLF, placing her home in an Accident Potential Zone. Now that the Navy has commenced their new operations out of the OLF, she finds that she is unable to entertain guests or have visitors since trying to hold conversations while outside (or even inside) is unbearable when the planes are  passing. The flights also require Ms. Boggs to keep her windows closed even when it is hot outside in an attempt to muffle the noise, which makes her home muggy and uncomfortable. Worse yet, the classification of her home within an Accident Potential Zone makes her fear that she has lost the value of her home and also makes her fear increased insurance costs. She is also very worried about the risk of a crash. 6.   Steven and Harriet (“Heidi”) Borton live at 611 Indian Hill Road in Coupeville near the OLF. They purchased the property in June 2013 and it is their primary residence. With the new frequency of flights in and out of the OLF, flights now pass directly over the Borton home approximately four days a week and often in both the afternoon and evening. These flights cause the Bortons to retreat inside and frantically call their cat in. They find themselves unable to entertain or plan social events with neighbors and friends since the flight schedule is not known very far in advance and it is impossible to talk over the jet noise. They also cannot watch TV or listen to music inside when the planes fly. They, too, have suffered from sleep deprivation as a Case 1:19-cv-01407-EGB Document 1 Filed 09/12/19 Page 4 of 36
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