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Alcoa does not seek return of Three Oaks

Judge expected to rule as four-day trial heads into ‘home stretch’
By MIKE BROWN Reporter Editor

Alcoa and Luminant are back in 20th District Court this week, as expected.

But something’s occurring, or rather, not occurring, that wasn’t expected. Alcoa isn’t seeking the return of the Three Oaks Mine it sold to Luminant in 2007.

Return of the mine, in Lee and Bastrop counties, was listed as a possibility in Alcoa’s amended lawsuit against the power company.

But in opening statements Monday before District Judge Ed Magre, Alcoa attorney Shannon Ratliff asked only for monetary damages related to the mine’s sale and operation.

Alcoa rested its case Tuesday and Luminant asked Magre for a directed verdict to deny Alcoa any damages. A ruling was to be made Wednesday. (See Reporter web site for updates.)

In any event the four-day trial is scheduled to wrap up by Thursday.

This is a bench trial, meaning there won’t be a jury and Magre will make the decision.

‘Stockpiling’

The Three Oaks Trial was separated out from the jury trial that concluded last week. (See separate story.)

It’s being fought on a different front than the big trial but again Alcoa is the plaintiff and again the task of aluminum company attorneys is to prove Alcoa was damaged by the actions of Luminant.

Ratliff charged Luminant “misappropriated”

lignite from Alcoa-owned propriated”

stockpiles, “sometimes at night.”

“We believe they disposed of lignite in the mine,” he said. “They also made a unilateral decision not to mine certain lignite.”

Ratliff asked the bench to award $49.42 million in “wasted lignite” damages plus $4 million Alcoa says Luminant owes from the 2007 mine sale.

He also claimed Luminant refurbished equipment at Three Oaks, then shipped it to other mines and limited Alcoa’s access to the mines to the extent that aerial photography was necessary.

‘Limited risk’

Luminant attorney Marshall Searcy said his side will show Luminant has not violated any part of the complex contracts which provided for the mine’s sale.

In fact, according to Searcy, the sale agreements “severely limit” Luminant’s legal risk.

He also charged Alcoa has been blocking transfer of the Texas Railroad Commission mining permit for Three Oaks, from Alcoa to Luminant, for three years.

Searcy said the stockpiles referred to by Alcoa were “legacy stockpiles” of a “huge amount of low-grade fuel.”

He said Luminant was entitled to “prudent operating practices” to “oversee the quality of the fuel delivered.”

“Alcoa is going to give you some anecdotal evidence and some ‘YouTube’ spy videos, of doubtful admissibility, taken from 4,000 feet,” Searcy said.

Searcy said for Luminant to have “mined and wasted” the amount of lignite Alcoa said it wanted would have required a site “the size of Cleveland.”


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2010-06-10 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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