CMT Coal Terminal

Proposed Orders in Coal Case

In the Coal Case, Judge Brooks ordered the attorneys to submit proposed orders on the pending motions for summary judgment. Both proposed orders are attached.  Plaintiffs’ central argument is that the Planning Commission lacked the authority to permit a coal handling facility as a coal mine.

Plaintiff Proposed Order

Defendant Proposed Order

Lori Carver Speaks Out For The First Time Regarding The Pill Mill Case

Recently Lawrence Specker of wrote an article about Lori Carver and her part in taking down two Physicians’ Pain Specialists of Alabama (PPSA) clinics. Drs. Xiulu Ruan and John Patrick Couch were found guilty of running a pill mill out of the PPSA clinics, for this reason, the clinics were shut down by the federal government in May of 2015. On Thursday, May 25, 2017, Dr. Couch was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $15 million in restitution, consequently. Dr. Ruan’s sentencing will take place on Friday, May 26.

Lori is represented by Peter Mackey of Burns, Cunningham and Mackey, and Gregory Vaughan of Holston Vaughan. Lastly, you can find a link to the article written by Lawrence Specker here.

Mobile Bar Association President Pete Mackey

Peter Mackey- Partner of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey


Coal Case Update


Mining, hauling and transferring coal are legitimate business activities and should be allowed so long as the public is protected from the toxic coal dust those activities create.  The Fox 10 News environmental documentaries, by investigative reporter Kati Weise, leave no doubt that coal dust is a huge problem in Mobile.  Large quantities of coal dust are accumulating on houses, cars, businesses, and public buildings in the Mobile community. Mobile County’s chief health officer, Dr. Bert Eichold, has testified that coal dust is a health hazard and fugitive emissions should be contained.  So, what is happening?

In the fall of 2015, Cooper Marine got caught illegally operating a coal handling facility less than one mile north of the Wallace Tunnel.   Cooper plead ignorance and applied for a permit.  The Planning Approval Staff Report, prepared in connection with that application, documents that Cooper provides even less coal dust mitigation than a prior applicant who withdrew its request following community protest.

At hearings on Cooper’s request residents complained to the Planning Commission of coal dust accumulation on their property and presented medical articles documenting the toxic effects of coal dust.  Even so, the Mobile Planning Commission gave Cooper permission to operate its open air coal handling facility next to the homes and businesses of downtown Mobile.

Residents appealed that decision to the City Council.  Councilmembers Rich and Manzie voted with the residents, Councilmember Daves abstained but Councilmembers Gregory, Richardson, Small and Williams sided with Cooper.  The residents’ appeal was denied 4-2.

Residents filed suit in the Circuit Court of Mobile County Alabama claiming that the decision to allow Cooper’s open air coal dust generating facility was “arbitrary and capricious” and that the statute under which it was issued is unconstitutional.  The case was assigned to the Honorable Sarah H. Stewart, Circuit Judge Mobile County Alabama.  On March 22, 2017 Judge Stewart denied motions to dismiss the complaint filed by Cooper and the City of Mobile.

So, the answer is that the case is moving forward!  A discovery hearing is scheduled for April 28, 2017.

If you’d like more information, please email my assistant Matt Laird at the following email address


Teen Drivers and Risk Factors

Billy Cunningham

Billy Cunningham

The following  article, about teen drivers and their risk factors was recently posted on the  TAOS Injury Layers website.  The lawyers at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey are members of TAOS Injury Lawyers along with lawyers all over the country.   It is copied here because addressing these issues is important for all of us.



Teen Drivers and Risk Factors


The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six teens ages 16 to 19 died every day in 2014 from injuries sustained during a motor vehicle accident.15862-a-teen-girl-texting-while-driving-pv

Everyone that shares the road should be vigilant of risk factors that contribute to higher risk of injury. Parents especially should make it clear to teen drivers what those risk factors are. Discuss how to mitigate risk, and support prevention at every opportunity.

Teen Risk Factors 

If you have teen drivers, or know teen drivers, discuss these risk factors with them to help illustrate how they might mitigate these risks; not just for themselves, but also for the safety of other drivers on the road:

  1. .Underestimating Dangerous Situations –Bad weather conditions, roadway construction, or poor nighttime visibility are all good reasons to slow down and exercise more caution than usual. However, teen drivers regularly underestimate the safety of these hazards, and often make critical decision errors that would not have been made by a more experienced driver.
  2. Speeding – Teens are notorious for speeding and shortening the distance between themselves and the driver in front of them. According to one study, the presence of a teen male passenger increases the likelihood of this dangerous behavior.
  3. Late Nights and Weekends – In 2014, half of all teen deaths caused by car accidents occurred between 3:00 p.m. and midnight. More than half occurred on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  4. Distracted Driving – Cell phones are great for parents that want to keep better track of where their teens are, but cell phones also pose new driving challenges, particularly for young drivers. Distracted driving is commonly a result of cell phone use while driving and is hazardous for everyone on the road.
  5. Seat Belt Use – Only 61% of teens report always wearing their seatbelt. Seat belt use has been proven to reduce death and injury by as much as 50% when worn. Buckling up could save a teen’s life in a serious accident.
  6. Male Drivers and Drinking – Male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 that were involved in a car crash in 2014 were speeding 35% of the time, and 24% had been drinking.

These are contributing risk factors for teen drivers and good talking points to discuss with them before they drive unsupervised.


One of the first things you should discuss with a teen driver is seat belt use. In 2014, of the teen passengers that died, more than half were not wearing their seatbelt.

Even in states without primary seat belt laws, parents and guardians should advocate for seat belt use among teens. Seat belt use has been proven to reduce serious crash-related injuries by as much as 50 percent.

Drinking and driving is another serious threat to teen drivers. Anyone less than 21 years of age is subject to a zero tolerance rule. It is illegal for teens to drink alcohol, but it’s worse when they get behind a wheel and drive.  This type of behavior should be prevented, even if it means admitting to illegal alcohol consumption.

Graduated driver licensing programs (GDL) are the best way for teen drivers to learn the skills they need to be successful on the road. All states have these programs, which provide more opportunities to practice driving. Limit teen drivers from driving during unsafe conditions, and promote greater involvement from parents.

By discussing risk factors with teen drivers and practicing prevention tactics, everyone can help increase safety for all who share the road.