Southwest Gas Corporation announced today that United States District Court Judge...
Southwest Gas Corporation (NYSE: SWX) announced today that United States District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver in Phoenix, Arizona, has issued an Order dismissing numerous causes of action brought by Southern Union Company (NYSE: SUG) against Southwest Gas executives.
In the June 21, 2001 ruling, the Court dismissed with prejudice Southern Union's fraudulent inducement causes of action against Southwest's Chairman of the Board Thomas Hartley and Southwest's Executive Vice President/Consumer Resources and Energy Services Edward Zub. The Court also dismissed Southern Union's tortious interference claims against Southwest's President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Maffie.
Given that all of Southern Union causes of action against Messrs. Hartley and Zub have been dismissed, Messrs. Hartley and Zub are no longer parties to the lawsuit. The Court also dismissed Southern Union's fraudulent inducement claims against other parties to the lawsuit, including ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE: OKE) and Arizona Corporation Commissioner James Irvin.
"We are very pleased with the Court's latest decision, which terminates a number of Southern Union's baseless claims against Southwest executives and builds upon the Court's May 21st order dismissing Southern Union's federal and state RICO claims," said Hartley. "As time proves Southern Union's case to be weaker and weaker, we stand by our assertion that Southern Union's allegations against Southwest and its executives are without merit."
Maffie said, "As the Court found, Chairman Hartley and Edward Zub never should have been parties to this case in the first place. We are heartened by the Court's ruling. It is important to keep in mind that Southwest Gas is now the plaintiff in this action, and that it was Southwest Gas and its shareholders that were damaged in this matter. We will press on with this lawsuit in an effort to compensate Southwest and its shareholders for the losses suffered as a result of the misdeeds of Southern Union Company and ONEOK."
Southwest has a comprehensive motion for summary judgment currently pending before the court that, if granted, would dismiss the few remaining Southern Union claims left after the rulings. "We believe that with the current motion for summary judgment which has been filed and the additional motions to be filed by our lawyers next week, Southwest is strongly positioned to have the Court dismiss the few remaining Southern Union claims," said Maffie.
A trial date of Nov. 12, 2001 is presently set. It is anticipated that the trial could last two to three months.
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.