Why did it take two years to get DIBC to say they’ll follow the court order?

Matty Moroun, Ambassador Bridge company says they will comply with Gateway court order

By Jeff T. Wattrick | MLive.com

The Detroit International Bridge Company, the Matty Moroun-owned firm which operates the Ambassador Bridge, announced today that it is establishing a special committee to oversee completion of the Gateway Project per the February 2010 order of Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards.

“The committee, and not the Morouns, will make all future decisions,” said attorney David Domina. “Those will include the selection of engineers, the selection of lawyers, the selection of construction or deconstruction company and all other aspects of the project. Matthew [Moroun] and his father [Matty Moroun] will be removed as a matter of law from the project.”

Matthew Moroun says DIBC fully intends to complete the Gateway as directed by Edwards’ order even though they disagree with it. He also said the company may seek to have the ruling overturned in a future appeals process.

Matthew Moroun declined to categorize today’s announcement as “surrender.” He did acknowledge that the prospect of Edwards, based on a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling, jailing his father and DIBC President Dan Stamper played a role in this decision.

“All human beings are afraid of jail,” the younger Moroun said.

The bridge company also said they’ve begun to complete work and alter the existing Gateway configuration to comply with the terms of their contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“What’s different today is we’re going to follow the court’s orders…the court ordered us to do certain things, we’re going to do them,” said Stamper, who will serve on DIBC’s special Gateway committee. “In fact, we’re finalizing a contract with a design/build contractor to take over the project and give us a completion date for all the work the court has ordered us to do.”

All of which raises the question: Why did it take two years to get DIBC to say they’ll follow the court order?

The question explored this afternoon in a heated exchange between Stamper and a reporter.

Reporter: What is it about this company that allowed it to think it could go for two years without obeying a lawful court order?

Stamper: Well, and most of you know me and have seen me before, I believe and I’ve signed affidavits that we built the Gateway according to the agreements and the drawings. That’s not the issue today…

Reporter: But the court ordered two years ago for you to do this and for two years you ignored the court’s order. You know, everyone else obeys court orders. How come this company went for two years without obeying?

Stamper: Well, that may be your opinion of obeying court orders. Our opinion, my opinion, has been that we obeyed the court orders even though we think the court orders changed throughout the process. We’re saying today that notwithstanding our interpretation of the court orders, we’re going to take them for what they say and implement them.

Ultimately, however, it is Judge Prentis Edwards’s opinion that matters. He has twice held DIBC in contempt for not complying with the February 2010 order. The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld his right to do so.

At tomorrow’s hearing in Judge Edwards’ courtroom, we will all see if this plan as laid out by DIBC finally satisfies the court.