LAS VEGAS, May 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Gas Corporation (NYSE: SWX)
announced today that United States District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver in
Phoenix, Arizona, has issued an Order dismissing the federal and Arizona state
RICO allegations made by Southern Union Company (NYSE: SUG) against Southwest
Gas. The Court also dismissed federal and state RICO allegations that
Southern Union had brought against Southwest's Chairman of the Board Thomas
Hartley, Southwest's President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Maffie, and
Southwest's Executive Vice President/Consumer Resources and Energy Services
In the May 21, 2001 ruling, the Court denied Southern Union's request for
reconsideration of the Court's December 15, 2000 decision to dismiss federal
racketeering claims made by Southern Union against Southwest Gas. Southern
Union's federal and Arizona state RICO claims against ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE: OKE),
Arizona Corporation Commissioner James Irvin, and several other individuals
were also dismissed by the Court's Order.
"We are extremely pleased that the Court has dismissed all of Southern
Union's federal and state RICO claims against Southwest and its officers and
directors," said Hartley. "For months, Southern Union has overstated through
press releases and in briefings the substance of its allegations and its
alleged damages. Southwest believes that Southern Union's remaining claims
are equally without merit and are subject to court dismissal. Southwest looks
forward to the court rulings on its additional motions to dismiss the entirety
of the Southern Union claims."
Maffie said, "Southwest and its shareholders were damaged as a result of
the misdeeds of Southern Union Company and ONEOK with respect to the merger
process. While Southern Union has made sensational claims alleging hundreds
of millions of dollars in damage, the simple truth is that Southwest and its
shareholders were deprived of the significant value and the economic benefit
of a solid merger because of the wrongful conduct of two companies. Southwest
and its shareholders fully expect to be compensated for their losses."
The May 21 Court Order also declines to allow Southern Union to
immediately appeal the Court's dismissal of the federal and state RICO counts.
Instead, an appeal, if any, of the Court's dismissal will occur in normal
course after the conclusion of a trial on the merits. A trial date of
Nov. 12, 2001 is presently set. It is anticipated that the trial could last
two to three months.
"We strongly believe in the merits of our case and are aggressively
preparing for trial," said Thomas Sheets, Southwest Gas Corporation Senior
Vice President and General Counsel. "However, we remain interested in
resolving this case on a negotiated basis as an alternative to prolonged
"We urge ONEOK and Southern Union to consider the opportunity for a
negotiated settlement. But any resolution will have to fairly compensate
Southwest and Southwest's shareholders for the damages they have sustained."
Southwest Gas Corporation provides natural gas to about
1,337,000 customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California. Its service
territories are centered in the fastest-growing region of the country.
This report contains statements which constitute "forward-looking
statements" within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995
(Reform Act). All such forward-looking statements are intended to be subject
to the safe harbor protection provided by the Reform Act. A number of
important factors affecting the business and financial results of the Company
could cause actual results to differ materially from those stated in the
forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to,
the impact of weather variations on customer usage, natural gas prices, the
effects of regulation/deregulation, the timing and amount of rate relief,
changes in capital requirements and funding, resolution of the pending
litigation, acquisitions, and competition.
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SOURCE Southwest Gas Corporation
Web site: http: //www.southwestgas.com
Company News On-Call: http: //www.prnewswire.com/comp/804969.html or fax, 800-758-5804, ext. 804969
CONTACT: Thomas Sheets, 702-876-7337, or Mike O'Conner, 602-262-5889, both of Southwest Gas Corporation