Judge rules that JM Eagle has cause to sue over press release

By Catherine Kavanaugh
Staff Reporter

Published: June 6, 2014 2:51 pm ET
Updated: June 6, 2014 2:54 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, United States, Construction, Municipal water & sewer, Pipe/Profile/Tubing
Companies & Associations J-M Manufacturing Co. Inc.

JM Eagle has a couple causes for legal action against a whistle blower’s law firm as a result of a November press release.

The firm put out the release after a federal jury decided that JM — North America’s largest manufacturer of PVC pipe — falsely represented uniform compliance with industry standards.

A case can be made that the press release mischaracterized the jury verdict and “there is a probability” JM will prevail on its claims of defamation and trade libel against the law firm of Phillips & Cohen, according to a tentative ruling adopted by Judge Elizabeth Allen White of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The ruling points out several statements that are “reasonably susceptible of a defamatory interpretation” starting with the press release headline: “J-M faces billions in damages after jury finds J-M liable for making and selling faulty water system pipes.”

The ruling says, “A reasonable fact finder could conclude that this published statement implies a provably false accusation of fact because ... the jury found that JM made false representations of uniform compliance. The jury was not asked to find, and did not find, that JM’s water system pipes were faulty.”

In an emailed statement, Phillips & Cohen says, “We respectfully disagree with the ruling and plan to appeal it.”

JM Eagle attorneys contend in court documents that the whistle blower trial verdict simply means that it did not achieve absolute manufacturing perfection, which is why it and most businesses offer product warranties.

The ruling also singles out a press release statement that says the jury “decided that J-M Eagle management cared only about the amount of pipe J-M produced, not the quality of that pipe” as possible defamation because it “does not directly represent a finding by the jury.”

The ruling denied Phillips & Cohen’s motion to strike JM Eagle’s defamation and trade libel lawsuit as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). The law firm represents a fired employee who worked for the pipe maker when it did business as J-M Manufacturing Co. The whistle blower, John Hendrix, questioned the quality of pipe made from 1996-2006 and sold to dozens of cities, states and water districts across the country.

JM’s lawsuit says the widely publicized press release about the jury verdict hurt its reputation and sales and it is seeking damages at trial.

Phillips & Cohen contends the press release at issue gave a “true and fair report” of on-going litigation and that JM’s lawsuit was filed to harass the law firm.

The litigation is on-going because the whistle blower trial is only half over with monetary damages to be decided in a second phase.

In the meantime, JM Eagle has asked the trial judge to set aside the jury verdict or grant a new trial, partly on the grounds of insufficient and irrelevant evidence.

In addition, JM Eagle has another lawsuit pending against the whistle blower and his attorneys in New Jersey for theft of confidential documents.


Comments

Judge rules that JM Eagle has cause to sue over press release

By Catherine Kavanaugh
Staff Reporter

Published: June 6, 2014 2:51 pm ET
Updated: June 6, 2014 2:54 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Proposed green building standard delayed until late 2016

November 27, 2014 6:00 am ET

Anyone not ready for a new green building standard — one that may include more favorable ratings for plastics — is getting something of a ...    More

Image

Large part molder EnviroTech in 'growth mode,' adds space, equipment

November 26, 2014 9:54 am ET

Salt Lake City-based EnviroTech Molded Products Inc. is adding new equipment and expanding its factory as it gains business in some of its...    More

Image

SPI hopes to build on EPS recycling

November 26, 2014 6:00 am ET

Successfully recycling expanded polystyrene can be a challenge, there's no doubt about that. EPS, however, has value, is in demand and deserves to be ...    More

Plastics workers nab suspected drug dealer

November 24, 2014 3:46 pm ET

A scene from a 1980s cop show played out in the parking lot of a Cleveland-area plastics firm on Nov. 11, as two employees helped police capture an...    More

Image

AMA Plastics adds presses, changes management structure

November 24, 2014 3:57 pm ET

AMA Plastics Inc. has strengthened its management structure, received recognition for entrepreneurship, achieved quality improvements and added three ...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events