Corning faces multiple lawsuits

New York state is looking to recover the cost of cleaning up industrial waste at a landfill site from the companies who allegedly dumped the waste there, including optical fiber pioneer Corning Inc. T…

New York state is looking to recover the cost of cleaning up industrial waste at a landfill site from the companies who allegedly dumped the waste there, including optical fiber pioneer Corning Inc. The cost of the cleanup at the old Bath landfill, where industrial waste was dumped from 1978 to 1988, was USD 9 million. The company has also been named as a potentially responsible party at 12 active hazardous waste sites by federal or state authorities. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed suit in state Supreme Court in Steuben County, New York late in August 2003 claiming that Corning Inc. and other companies that used the landfill should reimburse the state for the USD 9 million cleanup, completed in 1997. In a quarterly report filed in the last week of October 2003 with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Corning Inc., management says it considers that too much time has passed for the state to recover cleanup costs under many of Spitzer“s claims. However, on the advice of experts and internal and external consultants Corning Inc. has allocated approximately USD 20 million to cover its estimated potential liability for environmental cleanups and litigation as of 30 September 2003. In addition to the environmental cases, major securities fraud lawsuits in federal court continue against Corning Inc. The suits, filed between December 2001 and April 2002, accuse the company and some of its officers of inflating Corning Inc.“s stock price by providing misleading information or withholding information. They company is also alleged to have violated securities laws in connection with the sale in November 2000 of 30 million shares of Corning Inc. stock and USD 2.7 billion in convertible bonds. After hearing arguments in May and June 2003, the federal court reserved decision on whether the charges should be dismissed. Corning Inc. also faces legal action on behalf of participants in its invesment plan for salaried employees. The court initially dismissed those complaints, but later heard and reserved decision on a motion to allow them to be amended and refiled. The company said it is prepared to contest both lawsuits and does not expect them to have a material impact on the corporation“s finances. In another case, Corning Inc. has been accused of dumping optical fiber in China at prices lower than it charges in the United States. No final ruling in the case is expected until July 2004. Corning Inc., which rejects the dumping allegation, says it cannot estimate the impact of the case on its export business to China.