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Former Chief of Shipping Line Group Files Lawsuit

August 26, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The former head of the Pacific Maritime Assn. is suing his former employer, claiming that he was terminated without cause and seeking more than $1 million in bonuses and compensation.

Joseph Miniace, 59, who departed in March as president and chief executive of the San Francisco-based association that represents shipping lines and terminal operators, led the PMA through a bitter confrontation with the longshore union in 2002.

That confrontation led to a new contract that incorporated labor-saving technology that PMA members fought for. That technology is slowly being put in place at West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Miniace originally characterized his departure as a resignation and said he had accomplished his goals at the maritime association, which negotiates labor contracts for workers at 29 West Coast ports.

"Don't read anything into what I'm doing. It's just time now," the executive told The Times then, adding that he was looking into possible jobs at a university or in government service.

But in his lawsuit, filed July 21, Miniace claims the association has refused to pay him a bonus for 2003, another bonus for staying at the job for at least three years and 18 months of severance pay. He also alleges that he was terminated without cause, and is seeking unspecified punitive damages.

In a statement Tuesday, the maritime association said it didn't believe it owed Miniace any money and was prepared to handle the dispute through the legal process.

Miniace's suit was originally filed in San Francisco Superior Court, but was transferred to U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Monday.

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