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"Airport settles Louisville Forge lawsuit"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Airport expansion dispute is settled 
Louisville Forge to get $11.5 million 
By Patrick Howington
The Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal

A 15-year-old legal battle that once caused a two-year delay in the
expansion of Louisville International Airport has ended. 

The Louisville Regional Airport Authority's board of directors voted
yesterday to approve paying $11.5 million to settle a lawsuit over the value
of 131 acres that the airport acquired from Louisville Forge & Gear Works in
1993. The factory was razed for a new runway. 
The settlement came four months after a federal appeals court ruled against
the airport's bid to recover millions of dollars of environmental cleanup
costs from Louisville Forge. 

"The whole thing is over," said Hiram Ely III, attorney for Jim Peyton,
former owner of Louisville Forge. "It's hard to believe." 

Peyton established Louisville Forge in 1985 to make engine crankshafts and
other metal parts for Toyota and other automakers. It was on the site of the
former International Harvester tractor-assembly plant. 

It was one of about 150 businesses targeted for removal when the $750
million airport expansion project was announced in 1988. The airport reached
settlements with most business owners, but filed condemnation suits against
others -- starting with Louisville Forge in 1991. 

The company argued in court that the expansion wasn't necessary and was
being done mainly to benefit United Parcel Service, but dropped its
challenge after reaching a settlement in 1993. 

The agreement called for the airport to pay Louisville Forge $20 million
toward moving to a new location, but put off deciding the property's value.
The agreement gave the company four years to move, which delayed the
runway's opening by two years. 

Louisville Forge moved in 1996 to Georgetown, Ky., and the litigation lay
dormant for years. Peyton later sold the business, but kept the rights to
any proceeds from the lawsuit. He now owns a Lexington horse farm. 

In October 2003, a Jefferson Circuit Court jury ruled that the property was
worth $21.3 million, the full amount Payton had sought. The airport
authority appealed, but the settlement will end the case. 

The authority owed Peyton much less than the verdict amount because it had
paid Louisville Forge $20 million years before. However, it also owed some
relocation costs plus interest. 

The total due was $12.8 million, but the settlement announced yesterday
reduced that to $11.5 million. The authority will pay $6 million in January
and the rest by July 31. 

The settlement concludes the last case remaining from the expansion project,
said Skip Miller, executive director of the authority. 

Louisville Forge now is owned by Japan's Aichi Steel Corp.

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