McKool Smith celebrates another trial victory this week after Judge Terrence W. Boyles of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled in favor of the firm’s client, Alcoa Power Generating, Inc.
The State of North Carolina claimed ownership to a 45-mile stretch of riverbed that Alcoa believed it had owned since at least 1915. The State also claimed ownership to the four hydroelectric dams that Alcoa built along this river. In essence, that State contended that because the river in question was “navigable in fact” at statehood, under established constitutional law, Alcoa could be divested of its long-held title.
The gating issue for ownership tried this week was whether the river segment in question was “navigable in fact” in 1789, when North Carolina ratified the Constitution and became a State. With several hundred million dollars in the balance, and unable to find any surviving witnesses of the river in its natural state, the trial featured testimony from dueling historians, a marine archeologist, a fluvial geomorpholigist and Alcoa’s senior executive. At the conclusion of evidence, the court ruled from the bench that the riverbed at issue was non-navigable.
The case is State of North Carolina v. Alcoa Power Generating, Inc., United States District Court, North Carolina Eastern Division, NO. 5:13-CV-633.
With more than 180 trial lawyers across offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Marshall, New York, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C., McKool Smith has established a reputation as one of America’s leading trial firms. The firm has won more VerdictSearch and The National Law Journal "Top 100 Verdicts" over the last eight years than any other law firm in the country. Courtroom successes like these have earned McKool Smith critical acclaim and helped the firm become what The Wall Street Journal describes as “one of the biggest law firm success stories of the past decade.” McKool Smith represents leading clients in intellectual property, complex commercial litigation, bankruptcy, and white collar defense matters.