By Associated Press - Thursday, August 21, 2014

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — A trial is underway in a lawsuit brought by two men who say a 2010 Michigan oil spill destroyed their business.

Charles Blakeman Jr. of Bellevue and Robert Patterson of Mason say they were prevented from guiding disabled veterans on deer hunts in Fort Custer Recreation Area because of the spill.

The men want Enbridge to pay the thousands of dollars they say they lost as a result.

Enbridge is arguing that the company, Extreme Adventures, did not have any business before the spill and did not lose money because of it.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported Thursday ( ) that the trial in Calhoun County Circuit Court is the first involving Enbridge, which is responsible for the spill that dumped 800,000 gallons of crude into Talmadge Creek near Marshall and the Kalamazoo River.

About 30 cases have been filed against Enbridge, and more than 20 have been settled without a trial, the newspaper said.

Judge James Kingsley, who is presiding at the trial, has ruled that the company is liable for the spill, so the only issue in this and other cases is for a jury to determine if a plaintiff suffered damage and how much.

Extreme Adventure lawyer Michael Leavitt told the jury he would propose a financial loss for his clients at the end of the trial.

Blakeman said he and Patterson expected to have clients for the fall hunting season beginning Oct. 1, 2010, but the July 26, 2010, spill changed that plan.

“I was told no hunting along the river. And the deer scattered, and they were not in the rec area. The oil spill destroyed our basic plan,” he said.

Enbridge attorney Michael Vartanian said the founders of the company were hoping to build a strong business but had not done so before the spill.


Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer,

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