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Dallas Business Journal - 5:49 PM
CST Tuesdayby Jaime S. JordanWeb Editor
A Dallas County District judge on Tuesday dismissed one of the lawsuits filed against the city of Dallas by the owners of the former Legend Terminal over Wright Amendment legislation.
Dallas District Judge Martin Lowy dismissed a lawsuit alleging a local agreement that serves as the basis for the Wright Amendment Reform Act violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, said Rob Walters, an attorney with Vinson & Elkins LLP, who argued the city's case.
The federal Wright Amendment had for years stuck in the craw of Southwest Airlines (NYSE
: LUV). Long-haul restrictions had successfully fenced-in Love, limiting the close-in, city-owned airport to short-haul flights.
Behind closed doors, Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Chief Operating Officer Kevin Cox, Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, American President and CEO Gerard Arpey and Southwest Chairman Herb Kelleher worked out a compromise.
That led to the claim by Love Terminal Partners that open-meeting laws were violated during the compromise talks.
"I think it's a pivotal development. It's a major development," Walters said. "We believe that that ruling and the various actions ultimately will permit the city of Dallas to go forward in all respects under the agreement."
Bill Brewer, an attorney with Bickel & Brewer representing Love Field Terminal Partners, said he would be filing an appeal.
"I think he (Lowy) made a mistake today and we're a little disappointed by that, but we will appeal it and hope that the court of appeals follows what we believe the law to be," Brewer said. "Of course, the ruling has no impact on the federal suit."
The local compromise agreement became the basis of the Wright Amendment Reform Act. Under the federal act, Love's restrictions -- with congressional approval -- will be lifted by 2014. Love will be limited to domestic flights only, and the number of gates will be cut back from 32 to 20, with the city of Dallas bulldozing the terminal owned by Love Terminal Partners.
Love Terminal Partners has filed a range of lawsuits from alleging violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act to violations of federal antitrust laws.
In his decision Tuesday, Lowy ruled that the Wright Amendment Reform Act requires the city of Dallas to perform all of its obligations under the July 11 compromise agreement between the five parties, which includes management responsibilities, gate allocation responsibilities and other responsibilities, according to Walters.
Walters said the ruling could bode well for the another pending lawsuit against the city over the Wright Amendment.
"The whole point of the Wright Amendment Reform Act was to have Congress sanction this local agreement," Walters said. "I think this ruling reflects what the statute requires."
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"Any airline that wants to serve the [region] can go to DFW today and fly anywhere they want," WN spokesman Ed Stewart