More info needed in Calif. avgas suit

October 12, 2011

A federal judge requested additional briefings Oct. 3 before ruling on a motion to dismiss a case brought by California producers, distributors, and sellers of leaded avgas, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced.

The coalition of FBOs and avgas distributers brought the suit in response to a threat of legal action from the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) over the businesses’ distribution of leaded avgas. CEH and the state of California asked federal judge Anthony Ishii of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California in Fresno to dismiss the lawsuit; Ishii asked all parties to file additional briefings by Oct. 12 and is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss within a week, NATA said.

CEH filed notices of violation in May stating its intent to file suit under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65. The organization first demanded that companies stop selling avgas and pay civil penalties as high as $1.3 billion per company as well as the center's legal fees. It later amended the notices to demand that they pay the penalties and either cease the sale of avgas or provide warnings to anyone living near or passing through the area surrounding the airport that the lead emitted by piston-engine aircraft "causes cancer and reproductive toxicity," NATA said.

In response, the coalition requested an injunction, arguing that federal action to remove lead from avgas pre-empts a state-level lawsuit. NATA is supporting the businesses in their counter claim. If the judge denies CEH and the state’s motion to dismiss the claim, a second hearing will be held Oct. 26 to argue the merits of the coalition's request for an injunction, NATA said.