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HOECHST CELANESE TO FILE MOTION IN SAN DIEGO COURT

 SOMERVILLE, N.J., April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Hoechst Celanese Corporation today announced that it will file a motion in San Diego state court to set aside the verdicts against it in a recently concluded trial there.
 In that lawsuit, brought by 41 homeowners against the developer of their homes, and Shell Oil Company, U.S. Brass/Eljer and Hoechst Celanese Corporation, the jury awarded the homeowners $317,000 in compensatory damages for allegedly defective polybutylene plumbing systems and $317,000 in punitive damages, or approximately $8,000 per home. Hoechst Celanese, which supplied a raw plastic material used by other defendants to make a component of the plumbing systems, was found to be only 12 percent liable for those damages, or approximately $2,000 per homeowner.
 The jury also awarded to the developer, which had settled the homeowners' claims against it for a total of $160,000, punitive damages of $35.9 million from Shell, $9 million from Hoechst Celanese and $3.1 million from U.S. Brass.
 Hoechst Celanese said that it is confident that this "outrageous" punitive damages award in favor of the developer will be set aside. Frank Israel, Associate General Counsel for Hoechst Celanese, said that the verdict was "wrong and unsupported by the evidence. Israel said that the developer had not submitted to the jury any evidence of any damage. Moreover, the punitive award in favor of the developer was, he said, "wildly disproportionate" to the amount of the developer's own settlement with the homeowners, as well as the homeowners' compensatory damages of $4,000 per home.
 Israel also said that the court erred in unduly pressuring the jury to reach a punitive damages verdict. He noted that after deliberating for several days, the jury had told the court in writing that it was "unable" to reach a decision on whether to award any punitive damages at all, even though the jury said it had "made all reasonable efforts" to do so.
 Israel also said that while the jury found Hoechst Celanese minimally liable on the homeowners' claims, Hoechst Celanese is confident that even those findings will be overturned. He pointed out that the judge had not permitted the jury to see critical evidence of how well Hoechst Celanese's product works in other properly designed plumbing systems. Israel said that overwhelming scientific evidence proves that Hoechst Celanese's product is an eminently suitable plastic raw material for making plumbing parts, and that any problems with polybutylene plumbing systems are the result of the design and installation of those systems.
 Hoechst Celanese is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hoechst AG with leading positions in chemicals, fibers, advanced materials and technologies and the life sciences.
 -0- 4/19/93
 /CONTACT: Ann Frechette of Hoechst Celanese Corporation, 201-635-4357/


CO: Hoechst Celanese Corporation ST: New Jersey, California IN: CHM SU:

TS -- NY106 -- 7573 04/19/93 16:13 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 19, 1993
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