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Exxon Mobil Corporation hit a gusher in March, when a jury in Delaware superior court awarded the Texas�based oil conglomerate $416.8 million in its breach of contract suit against Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). Handed down after a two-week trial, the verdict is one of the largest awarded in the United States so far this year. Since 1980, Exxon has had, through two Delaware-incorporated subsidiaries, a joint venture relationship with SABIC involving the production of petrochemicals. The joint venture contract states that if either company obtains technology from a third party, the price of that technology will be passed along without markup. SABIC had purchased technology from Union Carbide Corporation and then, over the past 20 years, overcharged the Exxon � SABIC joint venture $184 million for the use of this technology. Since SABIC overcharged Exxon and, essentially, itself, Exxon sued for one-half of the total amount � $92 million. Exxon Mobil’s damage experts determined that SABIC made $324 million by investing the $92 million profit that it had made by padding the licensing fees. The jury deliberated for less than four hours before awarding Exxon Mobil $416.8 million (the $92 million overcharge plus the $324 million in potential investment). Given that war was being waged against Iraq at the time of the trial, Judge Jan Jurden took extra steps to ensure a fair jury unbiased by anti-Arab sentiment. She gave attorneys two days of voir dire and allowed each side 15 peremptory challenges. The trial was also complicated by the need to apply Saudi law, per the provisions of the original joint venture contract. Both sides, as well as the judge, had their own Saudi law expert. At press time SABIC was challenging the verdict through posttrial motions and planned to appeal the decision, if necessary. For plaintiff Exxon Mobil Corporation (Irving, Texas) In-house: Counsel K.C. Johnson and chief attorney John O’Hern. Weil, Gotshal & Manges (New York): David Lender, James Quinn, and associates Lisa Kurcias, Alana Liveson, Salvatore Romanello, and Brian Sung. Exxon Mobil is a long-standing institutional client of the firm. Hahn Loeser & Parks (Cleveland): David Michalski and Andrew Pollis. The firm worked with Exxon Mobil in an unrelated patent lawsuit several years ago. Pitney, Hardin, Kipp & Szuch (Morristown, New Jersey): Elizabeth Sher. Pitney, Hardin attorneys currently represent Exxon Mobil in New Jersey litigation involving SABIC. Richards, Layton & Finger (Wilmington): William Wade. For defendant Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) Jones Day (Cleveland): Ken Adamo, Michael Vary, counsel Leozino Agozzino, and associates Lawrence Rosenberg and James Walworth, Jr. (Rosenberg is in the Washington, D.C., office.) Adamo has been litigating against Exxon Mobil, on behalf of various clients, since the 1980s. Saiber Schlesinger Satz & Goldstein (Newark): Jeffrey Lorell and Agnes Rymer. Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell (Wilmington): Donald Reid.

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