After 4 hours of deliberation yesterday, the jury came back and ruled in favor of Duck Tours, a small amphibeous, harbor tour operation who filed the lawsuit after repeated harrassment from the city.
In the decision, the jury awarded Duck Tours and it's owner, John Murphy, $13.5 million dollars.
City officials are stunned, and the mayor of Key West, Jimmy Weekly, said on this mornings "radio magazine" program on local airwaves, "This will definitely impact the citizens of Key West."
It is unclear how much Historic Tours of America, owners of the Conch Tour Train and Trolley, will be asked to contribute. One things seems certain: the city of Key West will need to raise revenue somehow. The mayor, when asked where the money would come from, seemed at a loss. Weekly listed possible sources as higher permit fees, more parking tickets, and higher property taxes.
Still pending is the judges decision on whether to invalidate the city's agreement with Historic Tours of America. It is this agreement that the courts have ruled is a monopoly abusing it's power.
Murphy, Duck Tour's owner and plantiff in the suit, said he wanted to immediately begin tours again. It is unclear if the city has the good sense to allow this to happen, or continue to throw money and lawyers up the appeal process.
Either way, this is going to change things on the island. The next city commision meeting should be lively, with commisioners split on whether to again appeal or to pay.
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