JFK Ark sues Port Authority

JFK Ark sues Port Authority
John Cuticelli at construction of The Ark.

Hailed as “A 21st century animal handling facility”, the $32 million Ark opened its doors at JFK in 2016. Is was estimated that JFK that will handle roughly 70,000 domestic and wild animals annually. The center’s mission was to set new national airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services” according to a Port Authority release from September, 2012.

However, despite the welcomed services, The Ark, animal facility at JFK Airport has sued the Port Authority of NYNJ for breach of contract.

In essence owners allege in the suit that the Ark is in “imminent danger of shutting down” and has only managed to generate around $450,000 in revenue since its opening in February 2017, according to a city periodical. They claim that the reason why earnings are more than 90 percent below projections is because the Port Authority has been directing animal passengers to its facility in Newburgh instead of honoring a deal that granted the Ark exclusive rights to provide shelter to all pets, livestock, and birds entering or leaving JFK.

An animal-transport executive said that Newburgh is “a lot more convenient than JFK” for those who live out of state and for many people who don’t want to deal with New York City traffic. Another cargo source says it is unclear why horses are transported all the way to Stewart when many animals arrive at JFK.

Developer John Cuticelli of Racebrook Capital holds a 27-year lease with the Port Authority and will pay $138 million in rent over the duration of the lease to keep the Ark in place. Defending their investment, care and state-of-the-art facility, the suit brings up several other issues on safety and health.

“Ark’s process eliminates or reduces that major risk of foreign objects, contraband, weapons of mass destruction, biological agents, or other risks entering the country via animal or its accompanying material or trucks and being dispersed into the public during the unsecured travel across New York City to the Newburgh Animal Facility,” the suit reads. “These breaches have not merely caused enormous financial damage to ARK; they pose grave national security risks due to accidental infection via contagions carried by animals entering the U.S. or intentional attack via biological weapons of mass destruction, in each instance placing at risk both U.S. citizens and U.S. livestock.”

“Internal squabbling” and “turf wars” between competing government agencies are said to be the primary cause of the breaches, which include failures in both the animal terminal and quarantine center.

“The Port Authority continues to allow outside providers lacking Port Authority badges and credentials access to the ramp for transport and handling purposes,” the suit says. “These handlers are animal shippers without insurance requirements, Port Authority vehicle license plate requirements for trucks and trailers, without Port Authority mandated on-tarmac driver training, employee wage requirements, or subject to any of the Port Authority standards imposed upon other operating entities at the airport and Port Authority properties.

“The Port Authority’s willful breaches of the exclusivity provisions of the Lease are continuing each day and give rise to the accrual of new causes of action for each day’s breach,” the suit adds. “ARK has repeatedly tried in vain to resolve its dispute with the Port Authority to no avail. It is simply impossible for ARK to cut through the never-ending ‘red tape’ created by competing government agencies, and has sought judicial intervention only as a last resort. Therefore, in the interests of justice and to preserve national security, it is imperative that the Court promptly adjudicate this matter and hold the Port Authority responsible for its willful breaches of the lease with ARK.”

The ARK at JFK provides pre- and post-travel animal care and veterinary services for pets, horses, birds, livestock and exotic animals in a competent and compassionate manner. The ARK provides an efficient, safe and low stress environment for both our human and animal clients.

Located off of the runway at JFK International Airport in Cargo Area D, it provides 24/7 access to and from a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility, enabling the safe handling and efficient delivery of horses, pets, birds and livestock by air. Animals are moved from jets directly into ARK branded transport vehicles and taken to The ARK where they receive immediate care or begin required quarantine. Regardless of the duration of stay, all animals are looked after by accredited veterinary staff and highly-trained and caring handlers, with processes developed under guidance from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

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