Litigants in mega-load suit don’t want a speedy hearing

Lawyers: ConocoPhillips’ projected losses of $9 million are ‘insignificant’

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Three Idaho entrepreneurs who temporarily blocked four mega-loads of oil processing equipment from traveling on U.S. Highway 12 don’t want the Idaho Supreme Court to hear an appeal in the case on an accelerated schedule.

One of their attorneys filed a response Friday to a request from lawyers representing ConocoPhillips that the case be decided more rapidly than the normal time frame of about six months. The Supreme Court has not yet set any hearings in the case.

ConocoPhillips contends the delay will cost it $9 million and delay refurbishment of its refinery in Billings, Mont., where the cargo is headed, according to the response, which was filed on behalf of Linwood Laughy, Karen (Borg) Hendrickson and Peter Grubb by an Advocates for the West attorney.

“For the world’s third largest oil and gas company, which earned $4.2 billion in the last quarter alone, such alleged losses are immaterial and insignificant even if these untested allegations are true,” according to the response.

ConocoPhillips wants to get two Japanese-made drums, which have been split in two for transport, across the Arrow Bridge during a break in a resurfacing project on it that is supposed to be completed in late October. The oil company has argued if the loads can’t cross soon winter weather will delay the journey for months.

Even if the court hears the case in two or three weeks, it won’t be early enough to get the loads across during the break, according to the response.

The loads would have likely left the Port of Lewiston – where they are now parked – the week of Aug. 16, but Laughy, Hendrickson and Grubb filed litigation in Idaho County.

The litigation alleged the Idaho Transportation Department had not paid enough attention to issues such as public safety when it granted the permits. Second District Judge John Bradbury agreed in a decision Tuesday that was appealed by ConocoPhillips on Wednesday.

The loads would consume two lanes of the road as they travel at night, pulling over every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass in a trip expected to take four days from Lewiston to the Montana border.

The shipments weigh more than half a million pounds, stand nearly 3 stories high and span two-thirds the length of a football field making them the largest shipments ever authorized by ITD on Highway 12, according to the response.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.