Trial date set for company's dispute with port

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LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A state District Court judge has set an Oct. 27 trial date in lawsuit by Lake Charles Stevedores against the Port of Lake Charles.

The American Press reported (http://bit.ly/1eOXZNb) Judge Sharon Wilson set the date in the case, which includes allegations the port misappropriated funds.

The claims are just one aspect of a complicated case that addresses multiple contracts over a 50-year period.

Wilson also ruled on technical pleadings filed by the port's attorneys to amend earlier filings. In October 2013, former state District Judge Wilford Carter ruled in favor of Lake Charles Stevedores, granting the company $5.56 million in damages from the Port of Lake Charles.

Of the three motions heard May 19 in a two-hour hearing, none sought to have Carter's decision overturned.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2013 after termination of Lake Charles Stevedores' long-term contract for unloading services at the city docks in 2011.

Tom Flanagan, owner of Lake Charles Stevedores, obtained the contract a few years before, and the port canceled it.

Attorneys for Lake Charles Stevedores allege the port misappropriated public funds by paying the previous owners, Cooper T. Smith and Cavalair, $1.3 million in damages.

They claim the contract was canceled without cause, but the port cited a poor safety record among other factors.

"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 wrote in his October ruling.

But, he said, if officials of the port did have reasonable cause to cancel the contract, they waived that right because they didn't mention it in the letter of termination he determined that they therefore owed the Lake Charles Stevedores 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 wrote.

Wilson made it clear in the May 19 proceedings that she did not intended to revisit the judgment by Carter.

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Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com

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