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Judge Rules Wespercorp Broke Contract

Wespercorp said a U.S. District Court judge in Phoenix has ruled that the company broke a contract to provide computer billing systems to Citizens Utility Co. of Stamford, Conn.

In its suit filed in November, 1984, Citizens Utility, a public utility holding company, alleged that the Santa Ana-based maker of computer equipment failed to provide computer billing systems to be used in Arizona and Colorado.

A trial in U.S. District Court is scheduled for later this year to determine whether the utility was damaged by Wespercorp and to what extent. Citizens is seeking $4 million in damages.

Wespercorp said it does not believe that the order was justified and will ask the court to reconsider its decision. George Dashiell, Wespercorp’s president and chief executive, acknowledged Wespercorp did terminate the contract with Citizens but said the company believes that its action was justified because the utility and the company could not agree on the specifications of the work to be done.

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Separately, the company said Lowell, Mass.-based Wang Laboratories Inc. has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles alleging that Wespercorp infringed on a patent for a computer printer controller and related accessories.

Dashiell said that the Wang suit was a “surprise” and that the company will “vigorously” defend its action. Wespercorp “has reason to believe” that the patent Wang is claiming is not valid, he said.

Wang officials could not be reached for comment.

Revenue from sales of the unit in dispute have “contributed significantly” to Wespercorp’s operating income, and if the company were forced to halt sales, it “could materially and adversely affect its profitability,” Dashiell said.

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Wang is asking unspecified damages and for an injunction blocking Wespercorp from selling the devices, which connects a computer with a printer.

For its fiscal third quarter ended March 31, Wespercorp reported net income of $26,000, its first operating profit since the first fiscal quarter of 1983.


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