Ex-Bell Atlantic partner wins $25 million award Punitive damages awarded P. M. Video

April 13, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

A New Jersey jury handed Bell Atlantic Corp. a stinging rebuke yesterday as it awarded a former technology partner $25 million in punitive damages in a civil fraud suit.

The punitive award comes on top of $375,000 in compensatory damages that a Superior Court jury in Essex County handed to P. M. Video Corp. Thursday.

The jury had found earlier that Bell Atlantic's network services subsidiary intentionally deceived the New York company in 1990 in order to get its help when the telephone company was VTC planning to enter the information services business. The information services field includes such ventures as home automation, energy management and remote monitoring of security devices.

Stephen L. Snyder, the Baltimore lawyer who represented P. M. Video, called the punitive award "fabulous," but said it could have been even larger had the judge not ruled out his client's claim for $500 million in lost profits.

Mr. Snyder said that ruling is being appealed.

James R. Young, Bell Atlantic's vice president and general counsel, denounced what he called a "grossly exaggerated verdict" and said the company would asked the judge to vacate the judgment.

The lawsuit describes a scheme in which the company intentionally misled P. M. Video into thinking it had been chosen as the Bell Atlantic Network Services' national systems integrator while actually intending to misappropriate P.M.'s expertise until Bell Atlantic could perform that function itself.

The suit charged that Bell Atlantic "made a corporate decision that they wanted to maintain complete control over the information superhighway." According to the suit, Bell Atlantic also violated nondisclosure agreements by passing P. M.'s proprietary information to third parties. The suit further alleged that refused to pay P. M. for its services.

Pub Date: 4/13/96

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