Attorneys named in Outlying Field lawsuit

The Navy has named the attorneys who will represent it against the lawsuit filed by Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve even as that group has hired an additional lawyer.

The preliminary date for a joint status report and discovery plans for each party is set for Monday, Sept. 23.

The citizens’ group, based in Coupeville, filed a federal lawsuit in July against the Navy, Adm. Bill Gortney, and Captain Mike Nortier in the wake of increasing complaints about the noise stemming from touch-and-go landing practices at Outlying Field Coupeville.

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is in the process of phasing out the EA-6B Prowler and replacing it with the EA-18G Growler, an aircraft the group claims is louder.

In its lawsuit, the citizens group is asking a judge to compel the Navy to cease operations at OLF until a new environmental impact study can be made; however, on the group’s website, it is calling for complete closure and relocation of OLF.

The Navy’s attorneys are Rachel Brown, a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental and Natural Resources Division, and Brian Kipnis, an assistant U.S. attorney.

Brown declined to comment on the case Thursday, and a press officer from the U.S. Department of Justice could not be reached for comment by press time.

In addition to their current lawyer, David Mann of Seattle, who is handling the National Environmental Protection Agency claim against the Navy, the citizens group hired airport specialist and lawyer Barbara Lichman.

Lichman is with the law firm of BuchalterNember, of Orange County, Calif.

Lichman said she took the case because she is a lawyer specializing in airports, and the group’s case falls into her area of expertise. She would not discuss any details or plans regarding the case.

“My clients are determined to make some headway and try to resolve this issue with the military,” Lichman said.

“Resolution is the main goal.”

According to the citizen’s group’s blog, it is asking Lichman to consult with Mann on the case as well as explore additional claims against the Navy under the Hazardous Waste Act and the Clean Air Act.

Lichman will also be researching inverse condemnation claims involving the Navy in Island, Skagit, San Juan and Jefferson counties, and looking into possible claims against Island County under the State Environmental Policy Act.

The joint status report, due in September, will contain a statement of the nature and complexity of the case, a proposed deadline for the joining of additional parties and whether or not the parties wish to have the case assigned to a full-time magistrate judge.

The case is assigned to Chief Magistrate Mary Alice Theiler.

Discovery is a pretrial phase in a lawsuit in which each party can obtain evidence from the opposing party through documentation and depositions. The discovery plan should contain initial disclosures, phasing for discovery and lay out a plan for prompt case resolution.

Court documents also state that the case is eligible to participate in the Project on Cameras in the Courtroom.

Washington state’s Western District is one of 14 District Courts nationally that are participating in the three-year study of the effects of cameras in the courtroom. If all parties and the judge consent, proceedings will be recorded and made available to the public online.


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