American Stevedoring Inc. filed a civil racketeering lawsuit accusing the International Longshoremen’s Association, the ILA’s president and several others of forcing the company to sell its operations at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, is the latest litigation in a long, bitter dispute surrounding American’s reluctant agreement in 2011 to sell its operations at the Red Hook terminal in Brooklyn and at Port Newark. American's operations were sold in September 2011 to Red Hook Container Terminal LLC.
American claims the ILA wanted to oust the company because it was unwilling to participate in “illegal and corrupt activities” including no-show jobs, loan-shaking and bogus insurance claims.
The lawsuit said ILA President Harold Daggett called ASI President Sabato Catucci a “troublemaker” who “did not know how to give the ILA what it wanted.” The suit also claimed two officials of ILA Local 1814 told Catucci that if ASI didn’t transfer its operations to another company, he’d be taken out “in a box.”
The ILA and Daggett had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
ASI is seeking treble damages totaling more than $60 million under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.
Most of the lawsuit’s 49 pages repeat allegations and past waterfront crime cases, some dating to the 1970s, from the Justice Department’s 2005 RICO lawsuit against the ILA. That case has lain dormant for more than three years in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
ASI has been involved in several years of litigation and controversy over its lease at Red Hook, the smallest container terminal in the port.
The company filed a complaint with the FMC in 2010, claiming the port authority refused to negotiate a new lease for the Red Hook container terminal in Brooklyn. The complaint was settled with a confidential agreement in 2011.
Last year, the company was sued by the ILA-New York Shipping Association pension fund, which sought collection of more than $250,000 in withdrawal liability that ASI allegedly owed when it ceased its operations.