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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Jet ownerís appeal dismissed

Legal fees issue still to be heard

Express Staff Writer

Because his attorneys failed to file a brief, California multimillionaire contractor Ronald Tutorís appeal hoping to overturn a landing ban on his large jet at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey has been dismissed.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals routinely dismissed the appeal when the deadline passed.

In a brief order, court clerk Cathy Catterson wrote that "pursuant to 9th Circuit Rule 42-1, this appeal is dismissed for failure to file the opening brief in this case."

Yet to be heard, however, is Tutorís appeal to an order by U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill to pay Friedman Memorial Airport $159,038 in legal fees. The hearing is set for Aug. 23.

In a sweeping 30-page decision in January, Winmill rejected Tutorís claim that his rights under the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions were being violated by the Friedman ban as well as rejecting his claim that his right to travel was being impaired.

"At most," Judge Winmill wrote, "Mr. Tutor has been inconvenienced by the necessity of using a method of travel other than that which he prefers."

Friedmanís legal costs in the lawsuit filed by Tutor are covered by the airport insurer up to $1 million. The airport has spent more than $600,000 thus far and insurance has reimbursed it for $416,474 of its legal costs.

One of Tutorís attorneys, Jonathan Morse, of Bailey & Partners, Santa Monica, said the he would have no comment on the appeal being dismissed nor any future action, but did say he would proceed with appealing the legal fee issue.

Tutor has one other course to take if he wants to continue his fight for rights to land his 737-sized Boeing Business Jet at Friedman: an appeal to the Federal Aviation Administration to instruct the Hailey airport to permit the jet to land.

Tutor, who has a vacation home just north of Ketchum, has a smaller twin-engine Gulfstream III jet he uses to commute to Idaho.

But for more than a year, he has disputed Friedman Memorialís 95,000-pound weight limit that prohibits his BBJ from using the airport.

The confrontation between the airport and Tutor took an ugly turn in the initial stages: Tutor threatened through his attorneys to land the big BBJ at Friedman without permission, prompting Friedman Airport Authority chair Mary Ann Mix to threaten suspension of Tutorís pilotís license through the FAA.

Tutor abandoned his threat.

Friedmanís resistance to the BBJ stems not only from its weight, which airport manager Rick Baird contends could damage the runway, but to its wing span and length. The wingspan would probably force the airport to close temporarily since the BBJís wings would interfere with other taxiing aircraft.

The BBJ is a more than $50 million luxury aircraft.

Approximately 50 of the large jets are in service throughout the world, and airports such as Friedman have become desirable fields for BBJ owners who want to avoid large commercial fields and use the plane to commute to resorts and vacation homes.


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