Oct 24, 2013 12:05 PM by AP (PHOTO: MGN ONLINE)

Judge: Port must pay $5.56M

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - State District Court Judge Wilford Carter has ruled in favor of Lake Charles Stevedores, granting the company $5.56 million in liquidated damages from the Port of Lake Charles.

The American Press reports attorneys for the port and Lake Charles Stevedores presented their case in a four-hour hearing on Wednesday.

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

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 it.

"I find that there was in the record by the port allegations that Lake Charles Stevedores, while Mr. Flanagan owned it, did not do everything he should have done," Carter said.

Carter said that if the port did have cause they waived that right because they didn't mention it in the letter of termination - thus, they owed the Stevedores the liquidated damages for canceling the contract.

"The port chose as a business decision to get out of this contract, and there are consequences to getting out of a contract," Carter said.

Tom Filo, attorney for the stevedores, said he was pleased with Carter's decision, but that it only resolved one part of the case. "We still have other aspects of the case to go forward in trial," Filo said after the hearing.

He said the defendants have caused Flanagan damages under the Louisiana Racketeering Act for misappropriation of funds. Attorneys for the port say the cancellation of the contract had cause, so the port should not pay liquidated damages.


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