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Jury Decides $60 Million Oral Contract Case; Cozen and O'Connor's Win Vindicates Praxair.

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 2, 1999--

Yesterday, after only two hours of deliberation, a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury decided a case alleging damages of over $60 million in favor of Praxair, Inc., a major industrial gas producer and supplier and the largest producer of carbon dioxide in the United States.

In Airgas, Inc. v. Praxair, Inc., Airgas alleged Praxair breached an oral contract when Praxair made a $2.2 billion acquisition in late 1995 of another major industrial gas company, CBI Industries, Inc. based in Chicago. The jury verdict rides on the heels of Judge William J. Manfredi's decision to dismiss claims of misappropriation of trade secrets earlier this week.

Airgas' allegations hinged on a short telephone call in which Airgas alleged its CEO and Praxair's CEO made a more than $1 billion oral agreement that Praxair would not acquire CBI without some form of Airgas participation.

"Airgas' claim was meritless and frivolous and although we think a summary judgement would have been appropriate, we are grateful the jury saw through the complete lack of substance to Airgas' claims," said Stephen A. Cozen, the attorney who led Cozen and O'Connor's litigation on behalf of Praxair.

"From the outset it was clear to us that Praxair never entered into any contract with Airgas concerning CBI," continued Cozen.

"We are thrilled with the decision. The judge and jury vindicated Praxair from what we knew were outrageous and false claims," said David Chaifetz, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Praxair.

Thomas G. Wilkinson, a senior member in Cozen and O'Connor's commercial litigation department, tried the case with Mr. Cozen. Cozen and O'Connor is a full-service law firm with more than 340 lawyers practicing in its 14 offices across the US and its international office in London.

For more information about Airgas v. Praxair, Inc., call Stephen Cozen at 215/665-2020 or Thomas Wilkinson at 215/665-3737.

MEDIA NOTE -- After business hours, Cozen and Wilkinson can be reached for comment through Toplin & Associates -- 215/886-4644. To reach Tracey Russell-Greene of Toplin & Associates after 7pm, call 215/517-8101.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 2, 1999
Words:346
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