The Port of Galveston announced that it prevailed in an appeal decided by the U. S. Federal Maritime Commission.
Private parking lot operators must now pay for shuttle bus access to the port and taxis must have an annual permit to perform port drop offs and pickups as port parking revenue continues to come into focus for most North American U.S. homeports.
The appeal followed a lawsuit filed against the Port by three private parking lot operators – Santa Fe Discount Cruise Parking, known as “EZ Cruise,” Lighthouse Parking, and 81st Dolphin Parking.
The private parking lot companies brought a law suit against the Port of Galveston and an affiliate, the Galveston Port Facilities Corporation (or GPFC), contesting fees charged to drop off and pick up cruise passengers and luggage at the Galveston Island Cruise Terminals, according to a statement.
The case was filed with the United States Federal Maritime Commission in Washington, D.C., which has jurisdiction over claims asserted under the Federal Shipping Act of 1984.
In a December 2015 Initial Decision, Chief Administrative Law Judge Clay C. Guthridge ruled that all of the claims asserted by these private parking lots were unsubstantiated and unsupported by the evidence presented.
Judge Guthridge dismissed all of their claims “with prejudice” – which means that they may not be brought up again. The private parking lot companies appealed that ruling to the full Commission.
In a unanimous decision issued on January 13, 2017, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission affirmed Judge Guthridge’s rulings in full.
With these rulings in hand, the Port of Galveston and GPFC will file a motion to recover attorney’s fees incurred in this matter, along with a motion to disburse money held in a Federal District Court Registry while the litigation was pending, under an Interim Order previously entered. The Port will also ask to terminate that Order so that these companies will pay access fees directly to the Port on a monthly basis, as others paying the fees are currently required to do.
The Port of Galveston and GPFC were represented by a team of attorneys from McLeod, Alexander, and Powel & Apffel, led by Tony Brown, with significant assistance from Port staff.