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Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation (2012)

Chapter: III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES

« Previous: II. ESTABLISHING STATE POLICIES FOR AIRPORTS
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Suggested Citation:"III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22735.
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Suggested Citation:"III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22735.
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Suggested Citation:"III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22735.
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Suggested Citation:"III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22735.
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Suggested Citation:"III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES ." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22735.
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16 ments and gross wages within the state; for cargo op- erators involved in importing or exporting; for entering leases covering certain acreage; for flying specific types of routes; or for development within a designated air- port development zone.136 Tax benefits can take differ- ent forms, such as assessing equipment at a lower per- centage of its value or applying tax benefits to materials consumed during flight. States also may use tax policies to address the effects of flight in communities surrounding an airport. For example, in a few states, property may be eligible for a tax credit within certain federally established noise- affected areas, or job tax credits may be available for businesses in areas adversely impacted by airport ex- pansion.137 State tax policy can vary widely, but the examples in this section illustrate the scope of the pol- icy interests that states pursue through their tax codes to promote air transportation and airport operations. III. STATE PROTECTIONS FOR AIRPORT RESOURCES State laws typically demonstrate a policy of protecting airport entities, and this section will review common protections enacted by states. Since these entities are a part of state or local government, protecting them against loss and liability is primarily a function of the state. Federal law provides airport entities with few such protections, but it does not preempt such protections. Some state protections are financial in nature, such as requirements for accounting measures and lien rights to protect airport revenues. Others provide legal protections for airport business activities against antitrust liability. Many states also have enacted express immunity provisions covering other potential claims against airports. A. Statutory Protection of Airport Revenues and Assets States may allow or obligate airport entities to main- tain their revenues in a segregated fund that is held in trust for airport purposes.138 This approach reflects fed- eral requirements that prohibit airport revenues and 136 For examples, see N.C. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 105-164.13 (through 2010 Reg. Sess.) (parts for hub airline); KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 144.110 (through 2010) (airline investments); MISS. CODE ANN. 27-7-22.25 (through 2010 Reg. & 1st & 2d Ex. Sess.) (cargo operators); LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 47:3204 (through 2010 Reg. Sess.) (parts and equipment purchased by domiciled commuter airline); MINN. STAT. ANN. § 270.074 (through 2010 2d Sp. Sess.) (incentives for certain levels of intrastate service to small or medium-sized communities); HAW. REV. STAT. § 239-6 (through 2010 Reg. & Sp. Sess.) (in- centives for providing discounted fares to school groups). 137 For example, see MD. CODE ANN., Tax-Prop. § 9-216 (through 2011 Reg. Sess. and 2011 Sp. Sess.) (noise-related tax credit). 138 For example, see N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 423:6 (through 2011 Reg. Sess., ch. 269). assets from being diverted to nonairport uses.139 It also reflects the governmental structure that is applicable to some airport entities. As revenue-generating compo- nents of government, airports are generally considered to be an “enterprise” activity of government, and for accounting purposes they are typically maintained in a fund that is not commingled with the other revenues of a parent entity. States may impose other requirements governing the use of airport revenues as well. They may provide that revenues be used first for operating expenses, then to pay bond expenses, and then to finance airport im- provements.140 State law also may expressly prohibit a specific use, such as a law prohibiting airport participa- tion in the construction or operation of a public transit system using rail.141 State law may require that airport entities be periodically audited, and it may impose pen- alties if an entity refuses to comply with audit require- ments or in connection with the misuse of funds.142 States also may require airport entities to file financial reports with other branches of government.143 Some state laws address lien rights that affect prop- erty at an airport. Most states include statutes that provide airport entities with a lien to help them collect revenues owed by airport tenants and users.144 Airport entities typically can assert a lien against aircraft to secure payment for the cost or reasonable value of sup- plies, space, facilities, or services furnished by the air- port entity. Some also expressly allow a lien on aircraft for the payment of landing fees.145 State laws extend these lien rights for use by airport tenants as well (or allow the airport entity to so extend them) or to persons furnishing fuel to aircraft. These state laws may also allow a lien against an aircraft to the extent that the aircraft causes damage.146 General laws regarding gov- ernmental entities also may protect airport property from being placed under a lien, such as for the tax defi- 139 See 49 U.S.C.A. §§ 47107(l) and 47113; Policy and Proce- dures Concerning the Use of Airport Revenue, 64 Fed. Reg. 7696 (Feb. 16, 1999). 140 For example, see ARK. CODE ANN. § 14-362-122 (through 2010 Fis. Sess., incl. ARK. CODE REV. COMM. to Sep. 30, 2010). 141 See UTAH CODE ANN. § 72-10-215 (through 2010 Gen. Sess.). 142 For example, see ALA. CODE § 23-1-362 (through 2010 1st Sp. Sess.). See also City of Chicago v. Holland, 206 Ill. 2d 480, 795 N.E.2d 240 (2003) (state auditor general could not conduct compliance and management audits under new law permitting audits of airports where none of city’s affected airports received any money from the state treasury). 143 For example, see IOWA CODE ANN. § 330.22 (through 2011 Reg. Sess.). 144 Lien rights were included in the Uniform Airports Act that influenced laws in many states. See App. B: State Codes (noting uniform law influences by state). 145 For example, see CAL. CIV. PROC. CODE § 1208.61 (through 2010 Reg. Sess., 2009–2010 1st–8th Ex. Sess.). 146 For example, see NEV. REV. STAT. ANN. § 493.060 (through 2009 Reg. Sess. and 2010 Sp. Sess.).

17 ciencies of a tenant or in connection with airport con- struction work. State laws sometimes help airport entities enforce their lien rights as well. For example, states may priori- tize an airport entity’s liens above all others except tax liens. In Wisconsin, statutes allow an airport entity to retain possession of an aircraft to enforce its lien rights by prohibiting the aircraft’s removal after the airport entity has served or posted notice of the lien, or by per- mitting the airport entity to create regulations for tak- ing possession of and selling the aircraft. State laws may give an airport entity broad power to attach a debtor’s equipment and assist it with pursuing a law- suit.147 State statutes also may assist airport entities by im- posing liability on parties that damage an airport. Many states have implemented portions of the Uniform State Law for Aeronautics of 1922,148 which provided laws focusing on liability for flying an aircraft.149 Among provisions that may benefit an airport entity, states adopting these laws may provide that an aircraft owner and lessee are both strictly liable for injuries to persons or property on the surface caused by flight or by falling objects (unless caused by the negligence of the injured person). These laws also provide that if an air- craft damages a party, the party possesses a lien on the aircraft to the extent of the damage caused. Through these various means, state laws protect airport assets and revenues and facilitate an airport entity’s ability to pursue claims. B. Antitrust Immunity Airports conduct business activities for a public purpose. The private sector, however, may be capable of performing some of those same business activities, and airports actions also might disrupt competition in the private sector by imposing regulations or by entering contracts for exclusive dealings. Some of these actions have been challenged as violating antitrust prohibitions. The federal Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits contracts or combinations in restraint of trade and trade monopolies, and states generally enact similar prohibitions.150 Courts often find that challenges alleging antitrust violations fail, particularly those based on contracts for exclusive dealings, because the actions alleged do not violate the laws by displacing or damaging competition 147 For examples, see ALA. CODE § 4-4-9 (through 2010 1st Sp. Sess.) (priority); WIS. STAT. ANN. § 779.43 (through 2009 Act 406, pub. June 2, 2010) (retain possession of aircraft). 148 Reprinted herein at App. E by permission of the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws. 149 See App. A: State Codes (noting uniform law influences by state). 150 See 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1 and 2 (through P.L. No. 112-23 ap- proved June 29, 2011). The Clayton Act also prohibits specific anti-competitive acts and permits treble damages for violations under that Act and the Sherman Act. See 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 12-27 (through P.L. No. 112-106, approved Apr. 5, 2012). in a definable market. For example, in Capital City Cab Service, Inc. v. Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Auth., a court found that the plaintiff had not alleged an antitrust violation when claiming that an airport’s exclusive cab service agreement violated federal antitrust laws because the airport did not constitute the overall market for cab services, and thus the restrictions did not damage the market.151 If a plaintiff does not adequately plead harm to a definable market, the airport entity may move to dismiss an antitrust action for failing to state a claim. If an antitrust action is well-plead, airport entities may seek immunity from the application of federal antitrust laws.152 Actions by state legislatures, governors, and highest courts have absolute immunity from these laws under federalism principles. The courts have found that these laws did not intend to displace state sovereignty.153 State agencies and local government may also benefit from this immunity when they are acting pursuant to a clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed state policy under which displacing competition in a given market is a foreseeable consequence.154 This “state action” or 151 See Cap. City Cab Serv., Inc. v. Susquehanna Area Reg‘l Airport Auth., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28527 (M.D. Pa. 2007) (an earlier decision determined that the Harrisburg airport was not immune from federal antitrust prohibitions because state statutes did not authorize it to displace competition in the cab industry, but this court found that the plaintiff had not stated an antitrust claim because the airport did not constitute the market for local cab services, and thus competition in the market was not damaged by an exclusive dealing agreement). 152 For example, see Delta Turner, Ltd. v. Grand Rapids- Kent County Convention/Arena Auth., 600 F. Supp. 2d 920 (W.D. Mich. 2009) (discussing pleading requirements, and find- ing that a claimed antitrust violation regarding a marketing agreement’s effect on local music venues survived a motion to dismiss). Courts have also considered immunity issues without addressing the initial question of whether an antitrust claim was properly pled. For example, see Scott Aviation, Inc. v. DuPage Airport Auth., 393 F. Supp. 2d 638 (N.D. Ill. 2005) (focusing on antitrust immunity rather than the elements re- quired to allege a cause of action, and finding no basis for im- munity in exclusive fueling arrangements). 153 See Parker v. Brown, 317 U.S. 341, 350–351, 63 S. Ct. 307, 314, 87 L. Ed. 315 (1943) (the federal Antitrust Act is designed to “suppress combinations to restrain competition and attempts to monopolize by individuals and corporations…[not] to restrain a state or its officers or agents from activities directed by its legislature”). 154 See Town of Hallie v. City of Eau Claire, 471 U.S. 34, 42, 105 S. Ct. 1713, 1714, 85 L. Ed. 2d 24 (1985) (finding state legislation sufficient to provide immunity where it authorized city’s sewage treatment practices in a manner that had a fore- seeable anticompetitive effect; “the legislature need not expressly state in the statute or in the legislative history that it intends for the delegated action to have anticompetitive effects”). See also Deak-Perera Hawaii, Inc. v. Dep’t of Transp., 745 F.2d 1281 (9th Cir. 1984) (state DOT was a department of state government’s executive branch and as such entitled to state action immunity equal to that of a state legislature and supreme court; state DOT met tests for extending immunity

18 “Parker” immunity doctrine may also shield private participants in the action if the state actively supervises their implementation of the state’s expressed policy.155 The Supreme Court has clearly established these immunity doctrines for government regulatory actions, but it noted that the doctrines may not always shield government if it acts as a market participant.156 State empowerment legislation thus plays an important role in helping an airport entity obtain immunity from antitrust liability. Legislation must be sufficient to make the anticompetitive effects of an action foreseeable. State statutes also may expessly endorse anticompetitive actions. For example, Rhode Island statutes state that an airport entity is authorized to impose charges on rental car customers regardless of whether those charges have an anticompetitive effect.157 States also may expressly authorize airport entities to displace or limit competi- tion, whether directly or through the grant of an exclu- sive franchise, when conducting activities such as leas- ing motor vehicles, licensing concessions, and in ground transportation matters.158 If state legislation is not adequate to provide federal antitrust immunity to an airport entity, these entities will nonetheless have immunity from monetary awards under the Local Government Antitrust Act of 1984.159 Pursuant to that Act, local government (and officials and employees acting in their official capacity) are not liable for damages, interest on damages, costs, or attorney’s fees for violations of federal antitrust laws, and actions pursuing those claims must be dismissed.160 This Act does not, however, protect airport entities under “state action” doctrine as well, although the court be- lieved such a test was not appropriate for this agency); Rectrix Aerodome Centers, Inc. v. Barnstable Mun. Airport, 534 F. Supp. 2d 201, 203 (D. Mass. 2008) (fixed base operator brought federal antitrust claim regarding application of airport fuel policies, but court found state authorizing legislation foreseea- bly would result in anticompetitive effects, and no market par- ticipant exception applied). 155 See Cal. Retail Liquor Dealer’s Ass’n v. Midcal Alumi- num, Inc., 445 U.S. 97, 100 S. Ct. 937, 63 L. Ed. 2d 233 (1980). 156 See City of Columbia v. Omni Outdoor Adver., Inc., 499 U.S. 365, 111 S. Ct. 1344, 113 L. Ed. 2d 382 (1991) (city bill- board zoning exempt from antitrust laws). 157 See R.I. GEN. LAWS § 1-2-1.1 (through 2010 Jan. Sess., ch. 320). 158 For examples, see NEV. REV. STAT. ANN. §§ 244.187, 244.188 (through 2009 Reg. Sess. & 2010 Sp. Sess.) (taxicabs and concessions); CAL. PUB. UTIL. CODE §§ 21690.8 to 21690.10 (through 2010 Reg. Sess., 2009–2010 1st–8th Ex. Sess.) (air- port regulations and agreements may displace competition and create monopoly services). 159 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 34-36 (through P.S. 112-23 approved June 29, 2011). 160 See Montauk-Caribbean Airways, Inc. v. Hope, 784 F.2d 91 (2d Cir. 1986) (Local Government Antitrust Act barred air- line antitrust action seeking damages based on town’s refusal to allow airline to operate carrier and fixed-base operator ser- vices year round). against actions for injunctive or declaratory relief under federal law. Cases have considered a variety of circumstances at airports under federal antitrust challenges. For example, in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority, a joint airport authority faced an antitrust challenge when it exercised eminent domain in a manner that effectively eliminated the only other provider of airport parking. Its state authorizing legislation expressly prohibited the authority from interfering with existing businesses by establishing competitive enterprises. A court determined, however, that the authority’s condemnation power was entitled to federal antitrust immunity because state law empowered municipalities to displace existing competition when exercising eminent domain.161 Courts sometimes find that broad state authorizing legislation is sufficent to permit immunity for an airport entity’s actions, but broad language is subject to judicial analysis and ambiguities can add complexity. For example, in Rectrix Aerodome Centers v. Barnstable Municipal Airport, a court found that a municipal airport commission’s fueling policies were immune from the federal antitrust laws after finding that their adoption was sufficiently empowered by general state authorizing legislation granting regulatory powers.162 In Cedarhurst Air Charger, Inc. v. Waukesha County, a federal court determined that an airport’s broad state empowerment language did not authorize anticompetitive actions and that the airport could not require aircraft owners to use a single fuel supplier. Subsequently, however, a state court considering taxicab issues in that jurisdiction found that airport actions taken under broad state empowerment provisions generally would not give rise to state antitrust liability.163 Courts can extend state action immunity to protect the actions of airport concessionaires in some 161 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Susquehanna Area Reg’l Airport Auth., 423 F. Supp. 2d 472 (M.D. Pa. 2006) (not- ing it was clear that eminent domain contemplated that gov- ernment might displace a private entity vying for the same property). 162 See Rectrix Aerodome Centers, Inc. v. Barnstable Mun. Airport, 534 F. Supp. 2d 201 (D. Mass. 2008) (state enabling legislation sufficient to allow municipality to adopt rules and regulations for the use of municipal airports; legislation elabo- rated on ability to determine charges, uses, and conditions for services). 163 See Cedarhurst Air Charger, Inc. v. Waukesha County, 110 F. Supp. 2d 891 (E.D. Wis. 2000) (citing state antitrust statutes as one basis for determining that by broadly empower- ing the airport to establish fees and adopt regulations, the legislature did not authorize anticompetitive conduct); County of Milwaukee v. Williams, 2007 WI 69, 301 Wis. 2d 134, 732 N.W.2d 770 (2007) (finding that county ordinance prohibiting taxis without airport permits from making prearranged pick- ups was invalid because it conflicted with statutory require- ment that the public have equal access to airport services, but ordinance did not raise antitrust concerns).

19 circumstances. For example, in Zimora v. Alamo Rent- A-Car, a city ordinance required rental car companies to collect a daily user fee at an airport. The plaintiff challenged the companies’ ability to impose collections as an antitrust violation, and a court found that the companies were entitled to the benefit of state action immunity because state laws authorized the airport entity to implement the fee requirement, and the companies were complying with the law. The companies had lobbied in support of adopting the law, but the court found their lobbying efforts were protected from antitrust liability under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, which recognizes that antitrust law addresses trade restraints, not political activity.164 States may enact antitrust laws as well, and when airport actions are challenged under a state antitrust law, state empowerment provisions may again help an airport entity avoid liability. State statutes can specifically exempt an airport entity from state antitrust requirements.165 Courts also may determine that state antitrust statutes do not override airport empowerment provisions under principles of statutory construction. For example, in Fine Airport Parking v. City of Tulsa, a court considered whether a municipal airport could fix rates at an airport parking facility under state antitrust requirements. It first determined that the airport entity was not entitled to state immunity under federal antitrust immunity doctrines. It then weighed a statute that expressly made municipalities subject to the state antitrust act against another that empowered municipalities to fix charges at airports. Based on the express airport empowerment provision, and provisions declaring the airport’s operations to be a public and governmental function, the court determined that a municipality, like the state itself, could fix airport parking rates even though doing so may have an anticompetitive effect under state antitrust laws.166 Adequate state empowerment provisions are essential to avoiding antitrust liability for airport business activities. A challenger must first plead a 164 See Zimora v. Alamo Rent-A-Car, 111 F.3d 1495 (10 Cir. 1997) (Noerr-Pennington doctrine exempted from antitrust liability lobbying efforts by car rental companies to convince airport entity to enact ordinance imposing uniform daily use fee in connection with car rental facilities); E. R.R. Presidents Conf. v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc., 365 U.S. 127, 81 S. Ct. 523, 5 L. Ed. 2d 464 (1961) (recognizing protections for lobbying activities); City of Columbia v. Omni Outdoor Adver., Inc., 499 U.S. 365, 111 S. Ct. 1344, 113 L. Ed. 2d 382 (1991) (discussing political activity). Tenants have also argued that the Local Government Antitrust Act should give them immunity from damages claims. 165 For example, see 740 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 10/11 (through 2010 Reg. Sess., P.A. 96-1496) (units of local govern- ment not subject to state antitrust act). 166 See Fine Airport Parking, Inc. v. City of Tulsa, 2003 OK 27, 71 P.3d 5 (2003) (court resolved conflicting statutes by as- certaining legislative intent from text because more specific provisions authorized fixing rates). proper antitrust violation by demonstrating that an airport entity’s regulations or contracts damage a competitive market. Where an antitrust claim can withstand a motion to dismiss, however, the strength of an airport entity’s state authorizing legislation will determine whether it can claim immunity from federal antitrust requirements or, under state challenges, whether airport powers can prevail over a claimed antitrust restriction. If immunity fails, the Local Government Antitrust Act protects against monetary (but not injunctive) awards in federal claims, but antitrust litigation can nonetheless involve significant expense. C. Immunity from Other Liabilities States can extend statutory immunity to protect airport entities from liability in a number of areas. Immunity from any liability is entirely a function of the laws of a given state, and state approaches vary. States typically adopt general immunity provisions that apply to governmental entities, including many airport entities, but the structure of those statutes and the entities or activities to which they may apply can differ significantly.167 One traditional approach to creating governmental immunity is rooted in the common law, and it requires a court to analyze whether an entity or an activity is “governmental” or “proprietary” in nature. A state’s governmental immunity statutes may codify this traditional concept to some extent, but this approach also may exist at common law within the state where state statutes have not otherwise expressly waived government immunity.168 This approach reflects a policy determination that government, when engaging in an activity that a private person could pursue as well, should not be treated differently from a private person for liability purposes. States can apply this traditional approach in different ways. The courts may initially consider the nature of the airport entity itself to determine whether it constitutes a government agency, or whether it is “governmental” or “proprietary” in nature, and thus is subject to the application of the immunity statutes.169 167 At App. B: Questionnaire Responses, many survey re- spondents reported that they do not assert governmental im- munity, and some comments noted that state provisions do not provide that protection to the entity. 168 For example, see TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 101.0215 (Vernon, through 2009 Reg. & 1st Called Sess.); Gregg v. City of Kansas City, 272 S.W.3d 353 (Mo. Ct. App. 2008) (considering immunity under the public duty doctrine in connection with shooting by airport security officer). 169 See Coleman v Windham Aviation, Inc., 2005 R.I. Super. LEXIS 119, C.A. No. K.C. 2004–0985 (R.I. Super. Oct. 19, 2006) (Rhode Island corporation determined to be a public agency entitled to claim available immunity if act complained of was not proprietary in nature); Comair, Inc. v. Lexington- Fayette Urban County Airport Corp., 295 S.W.3d 91 (Ky. 2009) (city-county determined to be parent of airport board and its related entities (which were an airport corporation created by

20 Others may focus on the nature of an activity performed at the airport to determine whether the airport entity has acted in a governmental or proprietary capacity in a particular case. For example, a court may determine that the state’s sovereign immunity attaches to the operation and maintenance of a police force or does not attach to the maintenance of a runway.170 Judicial analysis of these traditional princi- ples is subject to varying tests and applications from state to state and even within a state.171 These analyses can produce varying results, and some courts have questioned the use of these common law principles.172 Under another approach to governmental immunity, states may not focus exclusively on governmental and proprietary distinctions but instead may provide that government entities can obtain immunity when their actions fall within specific statutory grants of immunity. Typically these types of statutes provide for immunity if the action in question is a “discretionary function” of the government entity. A “discretionary function” involves decisions that a government entity is not required to undertake that address matters of policy, such as how to allocate limited airport resources among competing needs. While these discretionary decisions receive immunity, ministerial (“day-to-day”) actions and acts that fulfill a legal duty generally are not given immunity.173 the board and airport board members sued in their official capacities) because it retained significant control, and airport board determined to be exercising a government function inte- gral to state government and thus entitled to immunity). 170 See Gregg v. City of Kansas City, 272 S.W.3d 353 (Mo. Ct. App. 2008) (airport security a governmental function); Al- pine Air, Inc. v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth., 62 Va. Cir. 215 (Fairfax County, Va. Cir. Ct. June 30, 2003) (in case regarding aircraft damage caused by debris on runway, airport was sub- ject to Virginia’s governmental immunity statutes; statutes provided municipalities were liable for torts involving proprie- tary, but not governmental functions, and airport found liable because past cases supported determination that routine run- way maintenance, like routine street maintenance, was a pro- prietary function). 171 See Comair, Inc. v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Corp., 295 S.W.3d 91 (Ky. 2009) (finding past confusion in judicial analysis of governmental immunity within the state). 172 See Cauley v. City of Jacksonville, 403 So. 2d 379 (Fla. 1981) (noting statutory scheme had replaced governmental immunity distinctions based on governmental and proprietary functions); North Bay Constr. Inc. v. City of Petaluma, 143 Cal. App. 4th 552, 49 Cal. Rptr. 3d 455 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006) (gov- ernmental distinctions are without foundation when consider- ing immunity questions); D.C. Water and Sewer Auth. v. Delon Hampton & Assoc., 851 A.2d 410 (D.C. 2004) (governmental proprietary distinction is a fine one); Colowyo Coal v. City of Colorado Springs, 879 P.2d 438 (Colo. App. 1994) (governmen- tal/proprietary distinction is no longer critical in tort liability in Colorado because of Governmental Immunity Act, but re- mains important in other contexts). 173 See Cessna Aircraft Co. v. Metro. Topeka Airports Auth., 23 Kan. App. 2d 1038, 940 P.2d 84 (1997) (considering a num- Specific statutory grants of immunity may simply provide that specified airport entities constitute local government entities that are subject to a state’s governmental immunity provisions.174 Statutory grants also expressly extend immunity to specific airport activities. For example, Wisconsin statutes protect against liability for providing or failing to provide airport police services.175 Express statutory grants of immunity may also address specific actions such as protecting airport entities from lawsuits if airport police officers enter private property without a warrant or make an arrest based on probable cause for trespassing in a secure area, or if airport employees detain a person for improperly entering the airport or take an abandoned aircraft into custody.176 Among the states, general governmental immunity provisions and specific immunity provisions for airport entities can produce varying results. For example: • In Burchfiel v. Gatlinburg Airport Auth., Inc.,177 a Tennessee court determined that state government immunity statutes did not protect an airport entity against trespass actions or from actions in equity seeking an injunction. Tennessee statutes prohibit suits that involve airport construction, operations, or management, whether the airport is a public or private facility.178 • Texas and Mississippi state laws provide airport entities with some immunity for contract liability in addition to tort liability.179 ber of state provisions, but determining that immunity did not shield airport entity from liability in connection with fire at hangar because legal duty to provide services existed, and dis- cretionary function exception not applicable where legal duty exists). 174 For example, see WYO. STAT. ANN. § 1-39-103 (through 2010 Bud. Sess.). See also Anderson v. Jackson Mun. Airport Auth., 419 So. 2d 1010 (Miss. 1982) (under existing law, mu- nicipal airport authorities were expressly extended sovereign immunity; no such language placed in a separate airport au- thorities law, however, and those authorities not immune for suits arising from proprietary or corporate functions). 175 See WIS. STAT. ANN. § 893.80 (through 2009 Act 406, pub. June 2, 2010) (providing immunity). 176 For examples, see FLA. STAT. ANN. § 901.15 (through 2010 2d Reg. Sess., ch. 274 & 2010 Sp. A. Sess., ch. 283) (tres- pass); R.I. GEN. LAWS § 1-4-10.3 (through 2010 Jan. Sess., ch. 320) (taking custody of aircraft). 177 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 747 (Nov. 28, 2006) (considering airport placement of sign in right of way). 178 See TENN. CODE ANN. § 42-2-103 (through 2010 1st Ex. Sess. & 2010 Reg. Sess.). 179 See San Jacinto County v. Nunn, 203 S.W.3d 905 (Tex. Ct. App. 2006) (finding immunity, since contract was executed before effective date of a later statute that waived sovereign immunity for suits arising from contract for engineering, archi- tectural, or construction services); City of Jackson v. Estate of Stewart, 908 So. 2d 703 (Miss. 2005) (tort claims act grants immunity for any breach of implied term or condition of war- ranty or contract).

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Legal Research Digest 15: Compilation of State Airport Authorizing Legislation presents information pertaining to each state’s airport-specific legislation, including laws establishing, developing, operating, expanding, and funding airports.

The compilation focuses on legislation expressly applicable to public airports rather than legislation applicable to local governments generally. It compares and contrasts zoning and land use; purchasing authority; commercial operations; ground transportation, funding, and taxing authority; law enforcement; and sovereign immunity.

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