PHILADELPHIA PORT SETTLES PAPER SUIT

PHILADELPHIA PORT SETTLES PAPER SUIT

The Port of Philadelphia Thursday came to terms with a local stevedore that was blocking changes to the port's paper import operation.

The port made a deal with Independent Pier Co. and J.H. Stevedoring Inc. to allow both operators to work Pier 80, the facility that houses the port's paper imports from Finland. Last year the port handled nearly 500,000 tons of paper at the pier.The port originally intended to replace Independent Pier with J.H. Stevedoring entirely. J.H. Stevedoring is an affiliate of Penn Trucking and Warehousing Inc., which handles distribution of the paper shipments. The port reasoned that the operation would be more efficient if it was handled by one company.

Independent Pier sued to block the port from canceling its lease at the pier. It alleged that J.H. Stevedoring inappropriately had acquired confidential business information in an attempt to seize the paper operation.

In a settlement worked out between the parties Thursday, Independent Pier and J.H. Stevedoring will work the facility together. J.H. Stevedoring will handle the paper shipments at the pier, but use Independent Pier for shipments requiring more than two gangs.

Independent, meanwhile, will handle all non-paper cargoes at the pier. Independent, after July 1, will no longer be housed at the pier.

The two stevedores are still pressing charges against each other in their lawsuits. The settlement, however, will allow the port to keep its paper operation running.

"We hope that J.H. Stevedoring and Independent Pier come to a resolution so that the vitally important forest products cargo will continue," said Bill McLaughlin, director of corporate communications for the Philadelphia Port Corp.