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Airport Security Firm, Huntleigh USA, Asks Federal Court to Order Compensation for Lost Business.

Business Editors/Legal Writers

ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 14, 2003

Constitution Requires "Just Compensation" for Taking of Property

Huntleigh USA Corporation, whose private airport security business was destroyed when the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) took over the task of screening passengers and baggage at U.S.airports, today asked a federal court to order the government to compensate it for the lost business.

Huntleigh President Joseph Tuero explained that the company filed this lawsuit because "the United States Constitution requires the government to pay you for the value of property it takes for public use. In addition, in the Aviation Transportation and Security Act, Congress required that adequate compensation be paid to airport security firms whose contracts were being taken over by the federal government. We are asking the court to enforce the law." Huntleigh's claim, which was filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., states that Huntleigh alone should not be made to bear the financial burden of the government's decision to federalize a function that had been performed by private companies for decades.

"Just Compensation" Required by Constitution

In its filing, Huntleigh says the government effectively confiscated Huntleigh's security business - a "taking" in legal parlance. While the government may take private property for public use, the "Takings Clause" of the Fifth Amendment requires payment of "just compensation" to the owner of that property.

"The taking of Huntleigh's security business without any payment is not only unconstitutional, it's unfair," Mr. Tuero said. "Huntleigh built a valuable business over the years and provided a much-needed public service. Then the federal government, through the TSA, took over security screening at airports and essentially put Huntleigh out of business. One day we had a growing, thriving security company - the next day we were being forced to shut down that business. That's not how our country is supposed to work, and that can't be what our Founders or what Congress intended."

The company's filing notes that in a taking case, "the owner must be put in the same position monetarily as it would have occupied if its property had not been taken." Thus far, the government has refused to provide Huntleigh any compensation for the going concern value and good will value of its lost business.

Congress Specifically Backed Compensation, but the TSA Declined

The filing also notes that Congress contemplated in the language of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (passed in November 2001) that adequate compensation would be paid to security firms whose contracts were being taken over by the federal government.

Huntleigh's Long-Standing Relationships with U.S. Air Carriers Promised Continued Success for Huntleigh

Before the federal government took Huntleigh's business, Huntleigh provided airport security services to eight major airlines and dozens of smaller carriers at nearly three dozen airports across the United States. Huntleigh screened a significant number of all passengers traveling through this country's airports. Given Huntleigh's dedication to passenger safety, excellent reputation in the industry and long-standing relationships with the air carriers, the company had every reason to anticipate continued business success. As a result, in recent years Huntleigh had invested heavily in technology enhancements and employee training.

"Although the government claims that it took over airport screening for the public good, in all fairness, Huntleigh should not be asked to bear the financial burden alone," Mr. Tuero said. "The government took Huntleigh's business, and the Constitution says the government has to pay for it."

St. Louis-based Huntleigh USA was founded in 1970 and was a leading provider of passenger and baggage screening services. It had contracts with eight major airlines and a number of smaller carriers to perform a variety of services at 47 US airports, including Los Angeles International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport, Seattle Tacoma International Airport, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Its relationships with airlines had been ongoing for as long as 14 years.

The services provided by Huntleigh USA included passenger screening at security checkpoints, security agents, skycap and wheelchair services, ramp agents, baggage x-ray, CTX operations (supervisors, operators, and guards), domestic sequencing operation, aircraft search, drug searches, baggage carousel guards, FAA guards, international arrivals guards, and more.

To learn more about Huntleigh USA's suit against the United States, please visit our website at http://www.bork.com/huntleigh. There, you will be able to read and download Huntleigh's complaint and questions and answers about the case.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 14, 2003
Words:750
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