Fast ferry engine lawsuit scuttled in state court

The state’s lawsuit against builders of the fast ferries has been shelved indefinitely.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg declared Thursday that “proceedings in this case will cease.” That was after he had a chance to research the law behind a motion to move the case out of state court and into federal bankruptcy court. However, the motion was not filed by the company currently in bankruptcy proceedings. Instead, it was filed by the remaining co-defendant in the state’s lawsuit over allegedly defective engines.

If the case is ever remanded back to state court, Judge Pallenberg says only then will he consider if he’ll sanction MTU Friedrichshafen and MTU Detroit Diesel for potential impropriety, or use of the motion as a delaying tactic.

Attorneys for the State and Alaska Marine Highway System got blindsided by a motion to remove the case out of state court. A hearing had been planned for Wednesday to compel MTU to provide witnesses for depositions.

The Alaska Marine Highway System believes that the engines for the fast ferries Fairweather and Chenega are defective. The vessel’s builders, Derecktor Shipyard of Connecticut, dropped out of the case when the company filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

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