Coastal Cargo lays off its workforce, shuts down at Port NOLA after 30+ years

Coastal Cargo lays off its workforce, shuts down at Port NOLA after 30+ years
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Coastal Cargo Company, a local stevedoring company that has done business with the Port of New Orleans for more than three decades, has laid off its 135 employees, after its lease with the port was terminated amid an ongoing court battle.

Coastal Cargo notified the Louisiana Workforce Commission in early June that the layoffs would be effective Friday.

Reached by phone Thursday, an employee at Coastal Cargo’s headquarters said the company is closing its doors permanently because of the lease termination and legal dispute. She declined further comment.

An attorney for the company could not be reached for comment.

Port NOLA officials declined to comment on the legal issues behind the dispute but confirmed the port has terminated Coastal Cargo’s lease. In a prepared statement, a Port NOLA spokesperson said two other breakbulk cargo operators–Ports America and QSL–are expanding their existing operations and leasing the facilities previously occupied by Coastal, which will allow operations at the port to continue without any hiccups.

“With the expansion, they will provide additional job opportunities, as well as uninterrupted breakbulk cargo services for Port NOLA maritime customers,” the statement said.

Finger pointing

Port Nola has acquired four new gantry cranes from China, which are a key part of the $125 million expansion of its Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.

Coastal Cargo, which, according to its website, was founded in 1987 by company owner, Daniel Haueser, has branded itself as the only locally owned stevedoring company at Port NOLA. It specializes in handling bulk and breakbulk cargo, which includes large equipment, boxes, drums and other cargo that does not fit into traditional containers.

According to the company’s website, Coastal Cargo is also licensed to do business at the ports of Baton Rouge and Panama City, Florida. But most of its operations were based at Port NOLA, where it has operated under multi-year leases that were regularly renewed over the past three decades.

Despite its long history, court documents indicate the company and the port have been on the outs since at least early 2022 and perhaps longer. The company’s most recent lease with the port was a five-year agreement, executed in 2017, that covered operations at five Port NOLA wharves.

When that lease expired in March 2022, the port did not renew it, though the company continued to operate, paying rent to Port NOLA on a month-to-month basis.

Then in March, Coastal Cargo sued the port in Orleans Parish state court, claiming the port had violated the terms of its lease and engaged in unfair trade practices. The lawsuit alleges that the port has offered more generous lease terms in recent years to Coastal’s national competitor, Ports America, which also provides terminal and stevedoring services and is the largest terminal operator in the U.S.

The “vast disparity” in the lease terms offered to Ports America versus Coastal Cargo violates a “most favored nation status” clause in Coastal’s lease, the lawsuit alleges.

Port NOLA has fired back, claiming in court documents that Coastal failed to comply with maintenance and repair obligations in its lease. The port identified 159 items during a March inspection that Coastal had failed to maintain or repair at the wharves it operates.  

The port also claims in court documents that Coastal is liable to repair a “basketball court-sized hole” that it caused by overloading a dock at the Harmony Street wharf with too much heavy cargo. Coastal Cargo has denied those allegations.

In late June, a judge in the case denied the port’s request that the case be dismissed, which means the suit will continue for now, even though Coastal Cargo is no longer operating at Port NOLA.

While the suit plays out, court documents show the company’s month-to month lease ended June 30.


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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