The Port of Galveston announced that it has won a lawsuit filed against it by three private parking lot operators - Santa Fe Discount Cruise Parking, known as "EZ Cruise," Lighthouse Parking, and 81st Dolphin Parking.
These private parking lot companies brought a law suit against 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, said a statement from the port.
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 decision issued on December 4, 2015, 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, and he dismissed all of their claims "with prejudice" - which means that they may not be brought up again.
In addition, Judge Guthridge also ruled that based on recent Shipping Act amendments, the Port of Galveston and GPFC may recover attorney’s fees incurred after the amendments went into effect in December 2014. While this does not allow the Port to recover all legal fees incurred in this case, it does represent a significant portion of those fees.
The private parking lot owners have until December 26 to appeal Judge Guthridge's decision to the Federal Maritime Commission.
"We are pleased with this ruling, which affirms that our policies and charges were fair and reasonable. Hopefully, this will resolve these issues and all parties can now work together to make cruising from Galveston an even better experience for our customers, and a stronger economic resource for our community.", stated Mike Mierzwa, Port Director.