A federal jury decided Feb. 24 that PVC compounder Synergistics Inc. was not responsible for almost $5 million in damages sought by PVC maker Georgia Gulf Corp. in a civil lawsuit concerning the quality of toll compounding Synergistics did for Georgia Gulf in 1995.
Georgia Gulf of Atlanta claimed material buildup in equipment at Synergistics' Willis, Texas, plant had created oversized pellets, which caused surface imperfections on its window profiles.
But the jury, after a five-day trial in U.S. District Court in Houston, found Synergistics had not breached its contract and that the 3 million pounds of compounded material was free of defects.
``Everything was in strict accord with the guidelines and specifications Synergistics had been given,'' said Keith Slade, the Houston lawyer who represented Mississauga, Ontario-based Synergistics in the case. ``[Synergistics] had also recently compounded 16 million pounds of material on the same equipment without any problem.''
Georgia Gulf was seeking $4.8 million, a figure Slade said represented the amount the firm said it had lost by selling Synergistics' material as off-spec instead of at standard compound prices.
Kim Aagaard, Synergistics president and chief executive officer, described Georgia Gulf as ``an excellent company,'' adding that Synergistics continued to buy PVC resin from Georgia Gulf as the case wound its way through the legal system.
``It's a situation where we deal with [Georgia Gulf] as a supplier, a competitor and a customer,'' Aagaard said by telephone. ``But they overestimated the merits of their case and underestimated our resolve to get at the truth.''
Several attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement were unsuccessful, Aagaard said.
Georgia Gulf officials declined to comment on the decision, a company spokeswoman said.
Toll compounding for other companies is not a major service offered by Synergistics, making up less then 5 percent of the company's overall business, said Aagaard. The company posted sales of $215 million in 1996.
Synergistics, which ranked second among North American PVC compounders in 1995 with a 14 percent market share, recently was acquired by Geon Co. of Avon Lake, Ohio.
Geon is North America's second-largest PVC producer and largest PVC compounder.