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Turner Grain suit's plaintiffs rest case

LONOKE -- Attorneys for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit related to the 2014 collapse of Turner Grain Merchandising Inc. rested their case Friday afternoon.

The jury is scheduled to return to the Lonoke County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon. Attorneys will gather before Circuit Judge Sandy Huckabee on Tuesday morning for motions.

Several Lonoke County farmers and their farming entities allege that KBX Inc., a grain dealer and exporter, played a key part in their not being paid for $5.5 million in rice. They seek an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

Turner Grain, based in Brinkley, was closed Aug. 12, 2014, when federal regulators found no grain in bins certified as being full. It filed for bankruptcy about two months later, listing some $14 million in assets and $47 million in debts. The Lonoke County farmers filed their lawsuit about two weeks after Turner closed.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Phyllis Jones in late 2015 allowed the farmers' lawsuit to proceed in state court but without Turner Grain Merchandising as a defendant because it is under federal bankruptcy protection.

The trial is scheduled to continue through Feb. 28.

-- Stephen Steed

Ship's Venezuela oil offloaded after year

An oil tanker caught in the cross hairs of the political battle for control of Venezuela is discharging its cargo after a year and two days bobbing off the South American country's coast.

The vessel Gerd Knutsen on Friday was offloading 950,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil at a domestic port, according to shipping reports and vessel tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The crude, valued at roughly $50 million, belongs to Citgo Petroleum Corp., the U.S. refiner led by appointees of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The Gerd Knutsen docked at the Port of Jose at a terminal run by Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the national oil company controlled by President Nicolas Maduro.

It's unclear if the vessel is discharging with the consent of Guaido's Citgo. In December, a shadow board of Citgo directors chosen by Maduro attempted to seize the cargo but was blocked by a U.S. court.

The battle for control of Venezuela's oil riches heated up after Guaido's first official visit to the White House to meet President Donald Trump earlier this month.

-- Bloomberg News

Index falls off 4.21, ends day at 448.77

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 448.77, down 4.21.

Shares of J.B. Hunt Transport fell 3.64%. Dillard's shares rose 2.71%.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

Business on 02/15/2020

Print Headline: News in brief

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