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Bridge battle turns ugly as lawsuit launched

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Owners of the Ambassador Bridge have launched a lawsuit against law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson...

WINDSOR, Ont. — Owners of the Ambassador Bridge have launched a lawsuit against law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, claiming the firm tried to thwart plans to build a new, six-lane crossing next to the Ambassador Bridge.

Detroit International Bridge Co. (DIBC), owner of the Ambassador Bridge, accuses the firm of working with the City of Windsor to derail the plan. At the time, the firm worked for DIBC.

“Because of its retention of and contract with Gowlings, DIBC provided Gowlings with substantial confidences and secrets, as well as other privileged information, with regard to the development and financing of the span which Gowlings would not otherwise have received,” court documents filed in Michigan allege, according to the Toronto Star. “Success with respect to the span would position the Ambassador Bridge to remain the premier commercial and tourist border crossing between the United States and Canada.”

Gowlings has asked a Michigan judge to dismiss the suit, the Star reports. Also named in the lawsuit is environmental lawyer David Estrin, who has represented the City of Windsor.

“Basically, the lawsuit, in my view, is an attempt at intimidating me from continuing to act for the City (of Windsor),” he told the Star yesterday. He said he was served with his papers just before a key meeting with the US Coast Guard regarding the need for further environmental evaluations.

“Just when I was about to walk into that meeting, the elevator doors opened. Out walked Dan Stamper, the president of the bridge company, and his American attorney and a processor, and I was served with this lawsuit. So, the timing of the service of this was clearly an attempt to intimidate me from going into that meeting and proceeding with that meeting. And, subsequently, they have told our American lawyers that they’re prepared to settle this lawsuit for no money. All they want is me off the case,” he told the Star.

— With files from The Toronto Star.

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