Longshore union can immediately appeal jury verdict damages

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled Thursday that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union can immediately appeal a jury verdict that it was liable for damages and must pay millions of dollars to former Port of Portland Terminal 6 operator ICTSI Oregon Inc.

A federal jury in November awarded $93.6 million in damages to ICTSI Oregon. In March, however, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon decreased the amount to just over $19 million, finding the evidence at trial didn’t support the jury’s larger award, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The judge gave ICTSI Oregon the choice of accepting the lower amount or holding a new trial on the damages. ICTSI rejected the lower amount, setting the stage for a new trial.

Simon on Thursday granted the union’s request to pause setting a new trial until its appeal is considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A jury found that the union sabotaged shipping traffic and caused productivity to nosedive through years of labor slowdowns and stoppages at the port’s container terminal. The union’s workers were pressuring ICTSI Oregon to give them dockside jobs plugging in, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers, taking the so-called “reefer’’ jobs away from an electricians union.

The Philippine-owned ICTSI Oregon, which signed a 25-year lease in 2010 to operate Terminal 6, left the port in March 2017, idled by the labor strife it says the national longshore union and the local chapter encouraged. The company argued at trial that the union engaged in illegal labor practices over nearly five years and caused tens of millions of dollars in losses to its business.