The sound of a jet engine roaring overhead can be earsplitting. But a man living near San Francisco International Airport claims the noise was so powerful it ripped apart his marriage, too.
Stanley Hilton, 60, of Hillsborough, said in unique court papers that his wife of 13 years divorced him and took their young triplets with her last year because of "around-the-clock" jet noise at SFO. He also blamed his recent health and professional woes on the air and noise pollution, which he compared to bombs dropping in a war zone.
Hilton last week sued SFO, Hillsborough, the counties of San Mateo and San Francisco, dozens of airlines and jet manufacturers, and the real estate agents and couple that sold him his home on Darrell Road for $1.475 million in April 2003.
"The marriage went downhill almost immediately upon moving to this location," he said Monday. "The house became extremely uncomfortable with the smog and the noise, and it caused enormous problems that led to the divorce."
Although Hillsborough is not typically under SFO flight paths, Hilton said the reverse propulsion of the jets and the home's hilly surroundings create an amphitheater-type sound he cannot bear.
"When the aircraft take off, it sounds like bombs dropping. It's just nonstop like a sonic boom, all night long," he said.
Hilton filed the 16-page suit in San Mateo County Superior Court on Nov. 10, and he is representing himself. He is demanding $15 million on claims of public nuisance, negligence, assault, battery, fraud and breach of contract.
SFO representatives said they would not comment on pending litigation.
Hilton is a former civil litigation attorney with a law degree from Duke University and was an active member of the State Bar of California for most of the past three decades, records show. However, the Bar said courts deemed Hilton ineligible to practice law in August.
He also sued the property manager and owner of a San Mateo building for $20 million in August after he got stuck between floors in an elevator for an hour, arguing that it led to a "phobia of riding in elevators."
Mike Rosenberg covers San Mateo, Burlingame, Belmont and transportation issues. Reach him at 650-348-4324.