Judge rules against the Detroit International Bridge Company…again

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentice Edwards ruled this morning that Matty Moroun and the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) have failed to demonstrate compliance with the courts February 2010 order to complete the Gateway Project agreement with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). This is one of many rulings against Moroun and the DIBC pertaining to the Gateway Project. Most recently Moroun and DIBC president Dan Stamper spent a night in jail for failing to comply with Edwards original ruling.

It has been eight years since the Gateway Project contract was agreed upon and two years since the courts initial compliance order. Judge Edwards this morning:

  • Rejected the notion that Moroun and Stamper can transfer responsibility via the special committee and that the DIBC remains in contempt.
  • To ensure compliance, DIBC was ordered to relinquish control of construction to MDOT.
  • DIBC was ordered to pay $16 million to MDOT by March 12, 2012 to fund the necessary construction in order to complete the Gateway Project.
  • DIBC is due back in court on March 22 along with Moroun, his son Matthew, and Stamper.

Judge orders Moroun’s bridge company to surrender Gateway project to MDOT, pay $16 million

By John Gallagher
Detroit Free Press Business Write

Deeply disappointed by a lack of progress in completing the long-delayed Gateway project, a judge this morning ordered the Michigan Department of Transportation to take control of the project from the Ambassador Bridge company and ordered the bridge company to pay $16 million for the work.

Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards told a packed courtroom that the steps taken by the Detroit International Bridge Co. in the past month were not enough to eliminate the civil contempt of court ruling Edwards had made against the company. The bridge company is owned by billionaire businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun, who was excused from the hearing this morning to attend a funeral.

The judge remained dissatisfied even though Robert Mol, an assistant attorney general representing MDOT, had told the judge during this morning’s hearing that the department was “cautiously optimistic” that the bridge company was making progress, although not enough.

Edwards noted that his order for MDOT to seize control of the project came some eight years after MDOT and the bridge company first signed a contract to jointly build Gateway, and a little over two years after Edwards ordered the bridge company to rebuild its portion to comply with the agreed-upon design.

Those long delays, and even the overnight jailing of billionaire businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun, whose family owns the bridge, and bridge company president Dan Stamper last January for civil contempt did not achieve enough progress to satisfy the judge.

“We’re certainly disappointed,” attorney Godfrey Dillard, representing the bridge company, said after the hearing. “We tried to turn the corner on this project. We’ve tried to reestablish credibility with the judge.”

And he questioned whether MDOT would be able to take over and complete project in any less time than the bridge company would be able to do it. “We’re going to be dealing with the bureaucracy of the Department of Transportation,” Dillard said.

Tony Kratofil, MDOT’s regional engineer in Southeast Michigan, declined to say how quickly MDOT would be able to complete Gateway. “We’re going to sit down and look at the schedule. We’re going to do everything we can to expedite this.”