Although some pretrial procedures have been delayed, chief judge Hon. Randolph Randa has ordered that Morris Material Handling/P&H’s case against Konecranes Inc. will be called to trial in front of a jury in at the same date originally planned, 6 March 2006. The trial will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

On 28 February, Konecranes and Morris requested delaying sending each other lists of lay witnesses they are planning to call to testify until 1 July.

Now both parties must give each other lists of lay and expert witnesses by 1 July. By 1 August they must provide lists of rebuttal expert witnesses. Discovery in the case should finish 1 October and pre-trial motions should be filed by 16 October, the judge ordered.

The case was originally launched in August 2003, and a motion to dismiss the case was denied in September 2004 (see Hoist 36, October/November 2004, p3).

Morris/P&H claims that Konecranes is passing off spare parts made by a third party as genuine P&H parts to gain access to Morris’s lucrative spare parts business.

In response, Konecranes denies the claim, argues that Morris’s attempts at proving its allegations had “subverted the market”, and argues that Morris improperly kept hold of a $250,000 fee that was part of the early stages of a plan to buy Morris.

Both parties took advantage of a 1 January 2005 deadline to amend their cases without leave from the court.

In Morris’s amended complaint, filed 30 December, it alleged that Konecranes was passing off aftermarket parts that were substandard. It alleged that Konecranes is “misrepresenting the country of origin of certain will-fit aftermarket parts”, “failing to appropriately mark the products as required by law” and “misrepresenting that all of its will-fit parts meet industry standards”. It also alleged that Konecranes was telling customers that it was still buying Morris/P&H.

Konecranes responded in January, denying all of the claims.

KCI Konecranes also filed an additional counterclaim in December. It alleged that when contacted, Morris would not send out spare parts unless Konecranes provided the unique serial number of the P&H crane.

The document continued: “Upon information and belief, the Morris Group then uses this information to circumvent Konecranes and solicit, service and sell to Konecranes’ existing customers or prospective customers directly, leaving Konecranes out of the transaction. Through these actions, the Morris Group has deprived Konecranes of valuable sales to its existing customers and prospective customers.”

In a reply in January, Morris replied, in essence, “prove it.”

KCI Konecranes’ document also implicated MMH Holdings, for the first time. MMH Holdings owns 100% of the equity of Morris Group and is based in Wilmington, Delaware.

MMH Holdings was the entity that received a $250,000 ‘exclusivity fee’ in 2002 that Konecranes gave with the intention of buying Morris. Konecranes argues that the money should be given back; Morris disagrees.

Konecranes also argues that MMH was involved in luring away Konecranes employees while at the same time it enforced a ban on Konecranes doing the same. The ban was agreed as part of the pre-purchase deal that included the $250,000 fee.

Since then, MMH has filed to be dismissed from the case, because it says that the deal required that any lawsuit coming from it would be tried in New York City. In response, Konecranes has filed a brief opposing, and MMH has filed a further brief in favour. As of early April, no ruling had been made.