Southern Union's Damages Claims Severely Restricted;
Ruling Is Significant Victory for Southwest Gas
LAS VEGAS, Sept. 25 /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 Southern Union's (NYSE: SUG)
claims for lost profits against Southwest Gas and its Chief Executive Officer
Michael Maffie. While the Court did not dismiss all the claims against
Southwest Gas or Mr. Maffie, the ruling dramatically restricts the damages
sought by Southern Union.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20010823/SWXLOGO )
The Court ruled in Southwest Gas' favor regarding the lost profit damages
sought in Southern Union's claim. Southern Union had been requesting between
$500,000,000 and $750,000,000 in such lost profits damages. This ruling
precludes such claims and will limit Southern Union's damages to
"out-of-pocket expenses" which Southwest believes are minimal, and punitive
damages, which Southwest believes will not be proven.
Previously, Judge Silver dismissed all racketeering claims against
Southwest, its officers, and directors, and many additional claims against
individual officers and directors of the company. On August 17, 2001, Judge
Silver vacated the previously scheduled trial date of November 13, 2001, and
has set a new trial date of May 28, 2002.
"This is a huge victory for Southwest Gas," said Southwest Chairman Thomas
Hartley. "We are delighted that Judge Silver has gutted Southern Union's
damages claims, thereby limiting the Company's financial exposure in the case.
We believe that this is another step towards affirming our assertion that
Southern Union's allegations against Southwest and its executives are -- and
always have been -- without merit. Southwest is highly confident that we will
prevail on Southern Union's few remaining claims against our company,
including their unsupported claims for punitive damages."
Hartley added, "We firmly believe that of the three companies involved in
this litigation, Southwest is the only one that has ascertainable damages, and
we will continue to pursue a recovery that appropriately compensates the
company for the loss of the merger. Given this significant ruling by the
Court, we look forward to resolving this litigation and continuing to grow and
serve our customers in our service territories."
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.
For further information, please contact: Michael O'Connor, (602) 262-5889.
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SOURCE Southwest Gas Corporation
Web site: http: //www.southwestgas.com
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CONTACT: Michael O'Connor for Southwest Gas Corporation, +1-602-262-5889
CAPTION: SWXLOGO SOUTHWEST GAS CORPORATION LOGO Southwest Gas Corporation logo. (PRNewsFoto)[TC] LAS VEGAS, NV USA 08/23/2001