Appeals court: Judge can proceed with penalties in Detroit International Bridge Co. contempt case

By John Gallagher
Free Press Business Writer

The Michigan Court of Appeals has denied a request by the Detroit International Bridge Co. to delay Thursday’s court hearing at which Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards is expected to assess penalties against the company for contempt of court.

The dispute stems from the long-delayed Gateway project at the Ambassador Bridge. Gateway is a $230-million joint project between the Michigan Department of Transportation and DIBC to connect the bridge directly to I-75 and I-96 through a series of new roads and ramps.

The bridge company built its portion of Gateway in a way that kept thousands of trucks on Fort and other local streets, instead building a lucrative duty-free shop and fuel pumps where one of the new Gateway roads was to have gone.

In February 2010, Edwards ruled against the company and ordered the bridge company to rebuild, even if it meant ripping out some of the duty-free facilities.

Since then, MDOT sought to prove before Edwards that the bridge company was doing little or nothing to comply with Edwards’ order. The bridge company contended it was doing all it could to comply and that any delays were because of changes ordered by MDOT. Edwards rules against the company last year.

Businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun, chairman of the business network that includes DIBC, has been ordered to appear Thursday before Edwards to face penalties along with his company that could include jail time. Moroun’s attorneys will argue Thursday morning that Moroun should not be forced to appear in person because, they have said, he is not the owner of DIBC, which is controlled by a series of partnerships affiliated with Moroun and his family.