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Court Sides With Port NOLA In Lawsuit

A judge on the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal has concurred with a trial court, ruling against a group of businesses, organizations and individuals from St. Bernard Parish that sued to block a proposed container terminal in the parish from moving forward. Stop The Destruction of St. Bernard Inc. (known locally as SOS) and the other plaintiffs had claimed the project, led by the Port of New Orleans and in conjunction with the St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal District, amounted to a nuisance to the community.

At the trial level, the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) argued, in part, for an exception of prematurity due to the Louisiana International Terminal (LIT) currently being a proposal, with the project still going through the permitting process at the state and federal levels. The trial court granted that exception of prematurity, and Judge Sandra Cabrina Jenkins of the Fourth Circuit concurred.

Jenkins said that the plaintiffs would have a chance to oppose the project through the same permitting process that Port NOLA is working through.

“At this time, the LIT project is currently only a proposal with no requisite permits to proceed into an actual development, and consequently, plaintiffs’ allegations of nuisance are speculative and their claims for injunctive relief to prohibit nuisances are premature,” said Jenkins, who later added, “If defendants obtain the requisite permits to proceed with construction of the LIT project, plaintiffs have the right and opportunity to re-urge their claims for relief in the district court.”

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“We’re pleased that the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the 34th Judicial District Court’s judgment dismissing the claims asserted by the Stop the Destruction of St. Bernard Inc. (“SOS”) as premature,” Port NOLA Press Secretary Kimberly Curth said. “The courts continue to recognize that the ongoing federal permitting process is the proper forum to address questions and concerns about the scope, design and construction of the Louisiana International Terminal.”

Curth added that the port remains committed to working with the St. Bernard community to craft LIT in a way that provides opportunity and supports the quality of life for St. Bernard Parish.

“The economic benefits of this project to St. Bernard and the state cannot be overstated, bringing family-supporting jobs, opportunities and tax revenues that will multiply locally and statewide for generations to come,” Curth said. “The benefits are currently projected to be more than 4,300 new jobs and $759.8 million in tax revenues for St. Bernard, and more than 18,500 new jobs and $1 billion in tax revenue for the state.”

While the LIT project remains in the permitting phase, Port NOLA has said work could begin on the $1.8 billion project by 2025, with the initial phase of the terminal operational by 2028.

The SOS lawsuit is at least the second legal challenge to emerge against LIT from St. Bernard Parish. In August, the parish’s district attorney, Perry Nicosia, filed a lawsuit that claims Port NOLA does not have legal jurisdiction to own and operate a facility in St. Bernard Parish. That lawsuit is pending responsive pleadings.