The Norwegian Bliss pulls out of Juneau’s downtown harbor on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Norwegian Bliss pulls out of Juneau’s downtown harbor on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Cruise industry’s lawsuit against city of Juneau is headed to trial

Recent mediation efforts failed between the city and Cruise Lines International Association

It’s official: the cruise ship industry and the City and Borough of Juneau can’t work it out.

Court filings Thursday showed that mediation efforts failed, and that the lawsuit filed by the Cruise Lines International Association against CBJ will be headed for trial.

According to the filings, the parties participated in mediation in U.S. District Court Judge Dana Fabe on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The mediation concluded without resolution. No further mediation is scheduled,” states the document signed by Robert P. Blasco of Hoffman & Blasco, LLC, the city’s defense attorney.

In the lawsuit, the CLIA alleges that CBJ is interfering with in-state commerce and is violating the Tonnage Clause of the U.S. Constitution by collecting $8 per cruise ship passenger (also known as “head tax”) with a $3 port fee and an addition $5 fee.

In the original 2016 charging document, CLIA specified as an example that it had a problem with the city’s then under-construction whale at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park. The whale was funded by private donations, but CLIA alleges that the head tax money the city used to fund the seawalk and the park surrounding the whale was illegal.

“Because Juneau’s fees are for services provided to the cruise ship industry and cruise ship passengers, and are not imposed for the privilege of entering Juneau’s port, the fees do not violate the Tonnage Clause,” states the document, which is still available in court filings.

[OPINION: What’s really at stake in cruise line lawsuit]

The city recently added $500,000 of more funding toward the litigation as part of its Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The total in spending in now more than $1 million allocated or spent defending itself from the lawsuit.

City Manager Rorie Watt said because there was no resolution, the lawsuit is back to H. Russel Holland, Senior United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.

Watt said a trial date has not yet been set.


• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.


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