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WITCO FILES APPEAL TO THIRD CIRCUIT FROM DISTRICT JUDGE'S ORDER REGARDING LIGHTNING LUBE LAWSUIT

 WITCO FILES APPEAL TO THIRD CIRCUIT FROM DISTRICT JUDGE'S
 ORDER REGARDING LIGHTNING LUBE LAWSUIT
 NEW YORK, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Witco Corporation (NYSE: WIT) filed a notice of appeal on Sept. 3, 1992 from the judgment order of District Judge William G. Bassler dated Sept. 2, 1992, to the extent it held Witco liable for the remaining jury verdict of approximately $9.5 million on plaintiff's claims for intentional interference with contractual relations and breach of contract.
 Punitive Damages Dismissed; Judge States No Conspiracy
 or Corporate Scheme Involved
 Judge Bassler dismissed in its entirety the punitive damages award of $50 million and compensatory damages of $2 million on the fraud and misrepresentation counts which had been awarded by a jury on May 1, 1992 in the Lightning Lube v. Witco lawsuit. Judge Bassler dismissed as a matter of law two counts for fraud upon which the jury had awarded $1 million for each count. On the claim for fraud and misrepresentation, Judge Bassler in his order stated, "I have individually analyzed each section of this claim on which the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and I conclude that the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to sustain the jury's awards on this claim."
 On plaintiff's argument that Witco and Avis had formed an agreement to enter the fast lube business in order to compete with plaintiff, Judge Bassler ruled that Witco "introduced sufficient evidence so as to render the plaintiff's theory of an Avis-Witco conspiracy implausible."
 In Judge Bassler's ruling on the dismissal of the punitive damages, the judge decided that "there is no evidence that supports plaintiff's allegation that there was a corporate strategy to put Lube out of business." Further, Judge Bassler ruled that no evidence supports the claim that Witco had a fraudulent intent to not honor the agreement with plaintiff.
 Judge Bassler ruled that plaintiff "has not offered evidence to support a finding of an evil minded corporate scheme whereby Witco intentionally plotted to destroy Lube." This lack of evidence and the lack of fraudulent intent by Witco prevents the plaintiff from recovering punitive damages.
 Al Abrams, Witco general counsel, said that "Witco is most satisfied that Judge Bassler dismissed the $50 million punitive damages award." Abrams pointed out that Witco never sought to destroy the plaintiff. "Indeed, our Kendall/Amalie Division is in the business of selling oil and not destroying its accounts that buy this oil."
 Further, Judge Bassler states "the record is critically deficient of facts from which a jury could rationally conclude that Witco seduced Lube into a relationship only to destroy it." He also commented, "Nevertheless, plaintiff has woven a sinister corporate plot out of a series of isolated incidents, the culmination of which was a staggering jury award based primarily on unsupported supposition." Due to this insufficiency of evidence, the passion and prejudice generated by the plaintiff's emotional displays, and the size of the punitive damages award, Judge Bassler ruled that substantive due process requirements mandated the dismissal of the $50 million punitive damages award in its entirety.
 Further proof that the jury's verdict was guided by passion and prejudice as stated by Judge Bassler includes that "...the record documents repetitive instances of Mr. Venuto's contrived efforts (even after judicial admonition) to appeal to the sympathy of the jury by displays of emotion. The theatrical displays of the plaintiff included tears, raised eyebrows and facial grimaces which impeded Witco's ability to have a fair trial."
 Evidentiary Errors Involved
 Judge Bassler ruled that evidentiary errors were made at trial. For example, on a witness issue he ruled that "any inferences that the jury drew about this witness were improper as they were premised upon Mr. Kramer's unfounded questions, his summation and the erroneous jury charge, as opposed to evidence of record."
 The reasons for which Judge Bassler ordered conditionally a new trial on the punitive damages and two counts of fraud included the following:
 -- a substantial error was made in the admission of evidence
 -- the damages were excessive
 -- it is probable that the jury's verdict was based in part on passion and prejudice
 -- the dismissal of two portions of plaintiff's claim for fraud and misrepresentation as a matter of law makes it impossible to apply a portion of the punitive damages award to the remaining claims.
 Abrams said, "Witco now seeks a new trial on all of the remaining compensatory damages in the interest of justice and because Witco strongly believes there was insufficient evidence for a jury to award any damages."
 -0- 9/8/92
 /NOTE TO EDITOR: Witco Corporation is a worldwide manufacturer of specialty chemical and petroleum products and engineered materials with annual sales of more than $1.6 billion.
 /CONTACT: C.R. Soderlind, group vice president, 212-605-3813, or S.L. Levy, manager of public relations, 212-605-3815, both of Witco/
 (WIT) CO: Witco Corporation; Lightning Lube ST: New York, New Jersey IN: CHM SU:


KD-TM -- NY069 -- 7218 09/08/92 17:34 EDT
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Date:Sep 8, 1992
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