New Orleans Residents Sue Over Medical Heliport

Residents in a New Orleans neighborhood have filed suit against LCMC Health Care Partners, LLC, Louisiana Children’s Medical Center, Children’s Hospital, and LCMC Health Holdings, Inc (LCMC Health), over a medical airlift heliport they allegedly built before they obtained a permit. The plaintiffs, Tomas Rey, Melisa Rey, Robert Denny, Victoria Emmerling, Nicole Williamson and Isabel Reynolds, cited that the new heliport was built “in violation of the law, without permission, without proper permitting, and without the involvement or input of neighboring residents and property owners.” The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, liability, and damages.

In 2017, LCMC filed an application to build a new four-story structure. There was no mention in the application of a heliport or the potential for a heliport. Despite lacking the required permits, they built the four-story building with the heliport. Following the construction of the building, they filed a permit application for the heliport in 2019. The plaintiffs maintain that “the permit was applied for and the permit was issued after the construction was finished.” The City of New Orleans was supposedly unaware of both the building and use of the heliport.

The plaintiffs live in an area that is within the flight path of the helicopters airlifting patients to the LCMC health center. The old heliport, which was in a separate location, “did not create unreasonable risk of harm nor did it create a compensable nuisance,” like the new heliport does. The new heliport allegedly is used for “flights, takeoffs, and landings [which] occur randomly at all hours of the day and night and emit deafening sounds and vibrations.” They cite that the decibel readings from the helicopters equate to the decibel readings from a football game or approaching subway train, leading to hearing loss, sleep disturbance, and more.

When the plaintiffs first began questioning the new helipad, they said they were met with reasoning from LCMC that the helipad’s location was more effective for incoming patients. In later discussions, they said that they had moved the heliport not out of necessity or because it was more effective for patients, but rather because of pilot requests. The plaintiffs claimed that the original reasoning was an attempt by LCMC to vilify the plaintiffs by claiming they did not care about lives in danger, particularly infants.

LCMC Health also allegedly “misrepresented that all proper permits were obtained for helipad construction.” They purportedly misinformed regulators when asked about the heliport brather than stopping the unauthorized flights. LCMC informed regulators that the helipad would not be used as a permanent heliport, and they used a permissible permit to distract from the questions of the helipad’s permanent functions.

Due to the alleged misrepresentation of the intended functions of the heliport and the discomfort the unauthorized flights caused the plaintiffs, they are seeking injunctive relief, liability, and damages. They are also seeking judgement in their favor from the Court.The plaintiffs are representing themselves, while the defendants are represented by Fishman Haygood, LLP.