Federal Judge John Woodcock presided over a hearing today that many thought would decide whether the sale of the Verso Mill in Bucksport would be completed to a metal recycling company. Instead, the judge told all parties involved that they need to sit down together and come to an agreement.

According to the BDN, Woodcock refused to consider letters submitted to the court that demonstrate the interest of others to purchase the mill and continue its paper production. Woodcock said the letters were not properly entered into evidence and so could not be part of the case. In addition, he added, he can't verify that those offers were in place before Verso accepted the offer from American Iron & Metal.

The International Association of Machinists initiated the lawsuit, asking the judge to issue a temporary restraining order to delay the sale of the mill to the metal recycler. Woodcock is considering whether Verso officials ignored antitrust laws in selling the mill to the Canadian-based company. The BDN reports he said he would rule but didn't give an indication of when that decision would be handed down.

In the meantime, Woodcock encouraged Verso officials, mill workers, and representatives from all companies interested in purchasing the mill to sit down together and come to a decision. Woodcock said he would even send another judge to act as mediator.