Airport's court loss could cost Yakima a lot of money

Airport's court loss could cost Yakima a lot of money »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Kicking out a tenant who was late on the rent could cost Yakima a lot of money. The State Court of Appeals ruled against the Yakima Air Terminal. It evicted Noland Decoto several years ago.

The company once had a bustling business at the airport. It rented hangar space, sold fuel, and offered flight training.

But in 2010, it was evicted. The Yakima Air Terminal said M.A. West Rockies Corporation -- Noland Decoto's parent company -- wasn't paying rent. Both went out of business.

Howard Hanson is a former customer.

"Many of us would like to do business here and have a place for our aircraft and just for general aviation. And what's happened is they put a barrier up."

The owner of M.A. West Rockies sued the Air Terminal. Following more than three years of litigation, the state Court of Appeals sided with Brad Goodspeed. It ruled his company shouldn't have been evicted. Rent was late, but within the time allowed.

Now Yakima faces a possible damage claim. Any award will be determined by a lower court. I asked the City Manager what Yakima might be likely to pay.

"It transpired in the spring of 2010, so you're probably looking at three plus years of operating income," said O'Rourke. "There was a building that was removed...not sure why...but it was removed. It's not going to be an insignificant amount when it's all calculated."

The airport has $800,000 in a risk management fund for situations like this. The city is also reviewing its insurance policies. Yakima's city manager says passengers won't notice anything different and planned airport upgrades won't be impacted.

"It will have zero effect on the airport."

For Brad Goodspeed, the impact has already been felt. He provided a statement to KIMA. It reads in part:

"10 people lost their jobs, while not a big number, it was a big number to those that lost theirs. The taxpayers of the county that will have to foot the bill for the damages incurred as a result of the termination of the lease and closure of Noland Decoto."

And now both Yakima and Yakima County may have to pay for that decision. Yakima and Yakima County will equally split the payment of any damage award. The County co-owned the airport at the time of the eviction.