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Stevedores, Port of Lake Charles in court battle

Last Modified: Wednesday, October 02, 2013 9:25 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

A local law firm on Wednesday filed a motion for a partial summary judgment against the Port of Lake Charles on behalf of Lake Charles Stevedores for more than $5.5 million.

Attorneys for Tom Flanagan, owner of Lake Charles Stevedores, allege the port misappropriated public funds by paying the prior owners, Cooper T. Smith and Cavalair, $1.3 million to purchase the rights of the Lake Charles Stevedores.

The lawsuit was filed in March as a result of the termination of their contract in 2011, when the Stevedores had a long-term contract for the unloading services at the City Docks. Flanagan bought the contract a few years before, and the port decided to cancel that contract.

“They had a right to cancel that contract, but in the event of cancellation, the contract required a payment of some liquidated damages in the amount of about $5.6 million,” said Thomas Filo, Flanagan’s attorney.

The port informed Flanagan when it canceled the contract that it was not going to pay the liquidated damages because the port had bought the right to the liquidated damages from Cooper and Cavalair.

Filo alleges in the lawsuit that the defendants have caused Flanagan damages under the Louisiana Racketeering Act for misappropriation of funds.

District Judge Wilford Carter granted a partial summary judgment in July, stating that the transaction between Cooper and Cavalair and the port was “invalid and ineffective.”

Louis Colletta, attorney for the port, said Carter’s judgment is “an interlocutory order,” which means it’s “temporary and not a final judgment.”

Colletta said the port anticipates having the judgment reversed “when the case is tried on the merits by the appellate court or Judge Carter himself.”

Colletta said that would entail the “cause issue” in that the port “had the right to terminate the contract for cause and not owe any liquidated damages.”

Bill Rase, executive director of the port, said the lawsuit involves the cancellation of a contract that was not in the best interest of the port or the residents of Southwest Louisiana.

“There has been no misappropriation of funds by the port as has been alleged by Mr. Flanagan, and there is no factual or legal basis for this claim,” Rase said in a statement.

“In fact, the port has directed its lawyers to seek the appropriate legal response to these false and misleading allegations should Mr. Flanagan refuse to voluntarily dismiss any claims alleging misappropriation or criminal wrongdoing. As this case moves through the judicial system this fact will be made clear.”

Rase said the port “intends to file its own motion for summary judgment regarding the contract at issue and looks forward to the resolution of this case through the judicial system.”

The motion is set for hearing Oct. 23.

Posted By: Justin Case On: 10/4/2013

Title: legal feeeeeze

How much does the Port's IN HOUSE attorney get paid each and every year? And every time there is a lawsuit or any legal "issue" the Royal Port of Lake Charles has to hire an OUTSIDE attorney. How about firing the in house paper pusher and just hire outside attorneys ALL THE TIME???!!!!! It is sure not doing any good having one on the payroll, now is it!! How much is Colletta being paid and what for??

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