NCIO Vows To Keep Up the Fight as Court Issues Final Judgment
The final gavel dropped today in the trial of Oakland and Bulk Oversized Terminal LLC v City of Oakland. Judge Noël Wise issued the final judgment awarding a qualified victory to the developers. She denied their claim for $159.6 million dollars in damages but gave them a 2 1/2 year extension of time to get construction of a rail-to-ship terminal underway. No Coal in Oakland issued the following statement in response to the final judgment:
Today, Alameda Superior Court Judge Noël Wise issued her final judgment in the trial of Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal, LLC v. City of Oakland.
Although the City of Oakland earlier lost in the trial’s liability phase on the issue of whether it had the right to terminate the developers’ 66-year lease for failure to meet an August 2018 initial construction deadline, the City emerged victorious in the final remedy stage of the trial, beating down the developers’ claim for 66 years of lost profits.
We applaud the court’s refusal to reward the would-be coal terminal developers with the massive payoff they sought by suing the City.
In their final pitch to the court, Phil Tagami and his partners sought $159.6 million in damages. Judge Wise found the expert testimony to support the developers’ “lost profits” claim “speculative and unreliable.” In her decision on remedy, she offered the developers a choice between a restoration of their lease with a new construction deadline, or a consolation prize of less than $320,000 if they chose to walk away from the project.
The developers chose restoration of their lease, thus setting the stage for a renewed campaign to keep coal out of Oakland.
The proposed coal terminal is extraordinarily unpopular in Oakland. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. Building new coal transport infrastructure in Oakland would endanger the health of the Oakland community, particularly residents and workers in historically Black West Oakland.
We are ready for the fight. Eight years ago, the cry of “No Coal in Oakland” brought labor, faith, environmental, public health, and neighborhood activists together with political leaders to derail the scheme to ship coal. Eight years later, we remain on alert. During the six-month trial, hundreds of “Keep Coal Out of Oakland” yard signs popped up around town, a harbinger of resistance to come if developers remain committed to coal.
There is a window of opportunity for the developers to make peace with a coal-free Oakland.
Jon Brooks, a wealthy Los Angeles hedge fund manager, now holds the rights to build a multi-commodity rail-to-ship export terminal in West Oakland. He picked up these rights in a bankruptcy court after his predecessor, coal executive John Siegel, squandered $27 million in his effort to bring coal to Oakland only to lose control of his company, Insight Terminal Solutions, in bankruptcy.
If the new owner of Insight Terminal Solutions wisely forswears coal, this community can help him succeed in building a worthwhile project on the Oakland waterfront. If he chooses to bet on coal, he will set himself up for the same disappointment as the late John Siegel.
Investors, beware. There will never be a coal export terminal in Oakland.
For more information and future updates on the campaign to keep coal out of Oakland, visit the No Coal in Oakland website.