What was supposed to be a three-day hearing in the case of Baldwin County Bridge Company LLC v. Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) Director John Cooper is now extended to four on Monday.

The Montgomery County Circuit Court judge added an extra day of hearings due to the amount of scheduled testimony and motions to be considered.

One of the motions concerned Scott Bridge Company, Inc., which is the company that won a bid to build a new bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway in Baldwin County. ALDOT's decision to build the new bridge is what spurred the lawsuit.

The Baldwin County Bridge Company (BCBC), which built and operates a toll bridge one mile away from the planned bridge site, filed a lawsuit against Cooper and Scott Bridge Company, claiming the new, free bridge would lead them to file bankruptcy. BCBC said they had no claim against Scott Bridge Company but named them on the lawsuit because they were involved in building the new bridge. Last week, Judge Jimmy Poole dismissed Scott Bridge Company as a party to the lawsuit.

In another order, Poole preliminarily denied a motion in limine filed by Cooper to block confidential settlement communications from court. Poole said the motion in limine would be reconsidered after more presentations were made in court during the hearings. However, he said an ALDOT spokesman already went public with the confidential information to the media.

"In rendering this ruling, the Court notes that Defendant Cooper does not deny that ALDOT leaked confidential settlement materials," the judge wrote. "The Court is also aware of ample evidence that ALDOT did in fact disclose confidential settlement communications, such as quotes made to the media by ALDOT's spokesperson regarding confidential settlement terms. While the Court reserves decision as to whether this constituted a material breach that would absolve Plaintiff of any continued obligations under the parties' agreements concerning the confidentiality and admissibility of settlement communications, which is better-decided upon hearing all the evidence, this prior disclosure also tends to avoid any potential prejudice from the preliminary denial of the motion."

Another hearing on the matter is scheduled for March 31.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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