Ninth Court affirms arbitration award favoring Port of Port Arthur 

David Yates Jan. 19, 2011, 4:10am


The Ninth Court of Appeals recently affirmed an arbitration award favoring the Port Arthur Navigation District of Jefferson County, dashing Sabine Syngas' hopes to toss the decision and continue the litigation in trial court.

The Port filed suit against Sabine Syngas in November 2006, alleging the energy entity refused to reimburse it for expenditures on a joint power plant project.

According to court records, the two entities entered into a contract for the development of a gasification and electric generation facility. By the terms of the agreement, Sabine agreed it would reimburse the Port for reasonable fees including legal counsel and technical advisors.

"Despite repeated requests for payment, Sabine has refused ... to reimburse the Port for expenses," the Port's lawsuit states. "At this time, the amount still due and owing by Sabine totals at least $49,429.10."

Court records show that after the suit was filed, Sabine counter sued, and the Goldman Sachs Group and Process Energy Solutions were added to the litigation as third party defendants.

The case went into arbitration and on April 24, 2009, Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, granted a motion to confirm an arbitration award filed by the Port and third party defendants.

An arbitrator issued an award on Dec. 3, 2008, ordering Sabine to pay the Port $72,072.54 in contract damages and attorney's fees, plus an additional $1,675 for the costs of arbitration, court papers say.

Sabine filed an appeal in July 2009, arguing Judge Sanderson erred in affirming the award.

An opinion was issued on Jan. 13 by the Ninth District Court of Appeals.

"Appellants contend the trial court erred in compelling arbitration and confirming an arbitration award rendered in favor of appellees," Justice Charles Kreger wrote in the court's opinion. "We affirm the trial court‟s judgment."

Based on the case's appellate record, the Ninth Court was unable to discern whether Sabine ever requested a panel of three arbitrators to decide its third party claims, the opinion states.

The Port is represented by Beaumont attorney Scot Sheldon of the Sheldon, Jordan & Dunham law firm.

Sabine is represented in part by Beaumont attorney Brent Coon.

Trial case No. B178-017

Appeals case No. 09-09-00331-CV

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