Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Judge leaves intact jury’s Koch verdict

July 12, 2000


— A federal judge has upheld a jury verdict against Koch Industries over the company's oil purchasing practices on federal and Indian lands.

Despite the latest ruling, the Wichita, Kan., company retains the right to appeal the verdict handed down in December, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

U.S. Chief District Judge Terry Kern on Friday denied a company motion filed before the jury received the case. Koch had asked that the case not be presented to the jury for lack of evidence.

Jurors found that Koch should compensate the government for underreporting the amount and quality of oil it bought from leases on federal and Indian lands between 1985 and 1989.

The jury recommended the company pay the government $553,504 in compensation, but that figure could be tripled under federal statute.

Kern could consider meting out as much as $214 million in penalties on 24,587 claims jurors deemed to be false. The penalty phase is the next step in the case.

The case has been the latest skirmish in a sibling rivalry between Bill Koch and his older brother, Charles, who is the company's chief executive.

"I'm pleased with the outcome," Bill Koch said in a statement Tuesday.

Company spokesman Jay Rosser said Koch Industries expects appeals to be made, regardless of the outcome.

"As the past 20 or so years of experience have taught us, litigation brought by Bill Koch is always lengthy and complex and inevitably exhausts all avenues available in the legal process," Rosser said.

In 1998, Bill Koch contended in federal court in Topeka, Kan., that his brothers cheated him out of more than $1 billion when he sold his share of Koch Industries in 1983. He lost that case.

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