FMC Affirms Access Fees Ruling in Favor of Port of Galveston

By: Amanda D. Wright

On June 16, 2014, three private parking lot operators filed a legal action with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (“FMC”) against The Port of Galveston and its subsidiary, the Galveston Port Facilities Corporation (“GPFC”) alleging that access fees assessed against the companies to drop off and pick up cruise ship passengers at the Galveston Island Cruise Terminal violated Sections 41102(c), 41106(2), and 41106(3) of the Shipping Act of 1984.

On November 21, 2014, Senior Administrative Law Judge Clay C. Guthridge issued a ruling in favor of the Port and GPFC dismissing the parking lot operators’ claims under Sections 41102(c) and 41106(3) of the Shipping Act.  Judge Guthridge subsequently dismissed the parking lot operator’s remaining claim under 41106(2) of the Shipping Act, with prejudice to refiling, on December 4, 2015.

The private parking lot owners appealed this decision to the FMC itself. On January 13, 2017, the full United States Federal Maritime Commission unanimously affirmed Administrative Law Judge Clay C. Guthridge’s rulings in favor of the Port.

Anthony P. Brown, acting as lead counsel, along with David E. Cowen, Amanda D. Wright, and Jocelyn A. Holland of McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, P.C. represented the Port entities.

News of this decision is being reported in various cruise industry publications, such as Cruise Industry News.

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