Judge Donald Johnson, of the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court (“JDC”), granted an appeal of a final order of the Louisiana Pilotage Fee Commission (“PFC”) in Docket No. P20-001, that approved numerous rate increases for the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association (“CRPPA”). The appeal was jointly filed by the Louisiana Chemical Association (“LCA”) and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (“LMOGA”) – – two Louisiana Industry trade associations who participated as Intervenors in the PFC docket to oppose the pilot rate increases that would ultimately be paid by Industry for shipping on the lower Mississippi River. As background, the PFC is authorized by Louisiana statute to regulate the rates charged by the pilot associations for pilotage services in their respective service areas in which they have the exclusive right to operate.
The PFC order granted CRPPA an increase in of $112,000 in target compensation per pilot per year, an additional 15 pilots for inclusion in rates, annual Cost of Living Adjustments and other relief. LCA and LMOGA appealed the PFC’s order to the 19th JDC, arguing that the PFC order violated the PFC’s statutory authority, is not supported by evidence and is arbitrary and capricious and should be reversed.
After briefing and oral argument, the 19th JDC reversed the PFC on all errors of law and evidence argued by LCA-LMGOA. The 19th JDC held:
The PFC authorization of tariff increases to reflect the 24% ($112,000) increase in target compensation, the implementation of a COLA, the fixing of target compensation based on a workload limited to “for 16,151 turns,” and the increase of 15 pilots, violates the PFC statutory authority pursuant to La. R.S. 34:1122, is not supported by the evidentiary record, and is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law, and is reversed.
Louisiana Chemical Association and Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association v. Louisiana Pilotage Fee Commission, Case No. C-715244, Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court, Judgement at 2 (December 9, 2022).
The PFC and CRPPA have appealed the decision of the 19th JDC to the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals.