A Dallas car dealership is getting $4.5 million in a settlement that ends a lawsuit charging that Texas Instruments Inc. contaminated property where the dealership operated.
The $7 million settlement reached late last month includes $2.5 million that will be paid to the property company that had leased the site to Eagle Lincoln-Mercury Inc.
The lawsuit sought damages that included lost profits for Eagle and a decrease in the value of the property owned by Three Birds Pro-perty Co.
While the suit named Texas Instruments and Raytheon TI Systems Inc., which bought Texas Instruments' plant at 6000 Lemmon Ave. in Dallas in 1997, the trial focused on Texas Instruments, according to plaintiff's attorney Mark Werbner of Dallas.
However, because Raytheon assumed liability for environmental exposures when it bought the plant, Raytheon will fund the settlement, Werbner said.
$23.3 MILLION JURY AWARD
The deal was struck moments before a state court jury in Dallas awarded the two plaintiffs $23.3 million in the case.
The jury found that Texas In-struments since the 1940s had negligently allowed chemicals used in manufacturing to contaminate the soil and groundwater at its plant site; the contamination had migrated to adjoining land, including the site where Eagle operated a body shop.
Judge Bill Rhea allowed the verdict to be read at the end of the eight-day trial, even though the award will never be paid.
John Eagle, president of Eagle Lincoln-Mercury, said he isn't disappointed in the deal, even though the award was more than three times the settlement.
'My goal was to get back whole and to stop the contamination from migrating into the community,' Eagle said. 'I'm not unhappy at all.'
He said that it cost $1.5 million to take the suit to trial and that settling saves the expense of an appeal.
Also, the deal means that Raytheon is responsible for the cleanup costs, he said.
MOVING TO ANOTHER SITE
Eagle also said his company is moving its operation to another site to make way for the extensive cleanup.
The suit, filed in 1996, charged that Texas Instruments was negligent in handling and disposing of chemicals that included carbon tetrachloride used to manufacture semiconductors.
The suit alleged that the company misled regulators at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission by falsely claiming Texas Instruments was negotiating with the plaintiffs to monitor the contamination.
Texas Instruments counterclaimed that Eagle Lincoln-Mercury appeared to have 'caused or contributed to the contamination' and in fact contaminated Texas Instruments' property.
A spokeswoman for Texas Instruments said attorneys for the company tried to show that while some of the damage at the Eagle site may have been caused by chemicals from the plant, 'we believe most of the harm was caused by other businesses' in the area.