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American Shipper

Stockton port receives $609,000 in legal fees settlement

Stockton port receives $609,000 in legal fees settlement

The Port of Stockton was awarded $609,000 in a settlement over legal expenses the port incurred while defending itself during a 2003 lawsuit brought by local residents.

   The settlement, with two insurance firms holding policies covering the port against such lawsuits, was called by Port Director Richard Aschieris, the 'final chapter' in the nearly nine-year dispute with local residents over lights, noise and pollution from cargo operations at the port's Rough and Ready Island.

   A group of local residents sued the port authority shortly after it received the Rough and Ready Island from the U.S. Navy in 2000 and opened the existing maritime facilities to commercial operations.

   A 2006 jury trial cleared the port of any wrongdoing, but the fight was costly, as the port incurred more than $1.2 million in legal fees.

   The port's two insurance firms, Arrowood Insurance and CNA Financial subsidiary Continental Insurance, refused to pay certain portions of the port's legal expenses, according to the Stockton Record.

   Arrowood had previously paid the port $712,000 to cover legal expenses arising from the lawsuit, but declined to pay an additional $84,000 covered under the policy.

   Under terms of the settlement, approved Monday by the Stockton Port Commission, Continental would compensate the port $525,000 and Arrowood would pay $84,000.

   The port, when drafting the 2008-2009 fiscal budget, did not anticipate the settlement money, and Aschieris told the Record there had been no decision on how to spend the extra income.

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