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INVENTOR SETTLES LAWSUIT FOR $40 MILLION

Jan 28, 2010

By Gary McElroy
Staff Reporter Mobile Press-Register

A Mobile chemist who in 2008 won a $192 million lawsuit against former employers who he said stole his ideas settled the case for $40 million, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Sven Peter Mannsfeld contended in a 2008 lawsuit that Ineos Americas, a Theodore chemical plant, and its parent company, the German-based Ineos Phenol, usurped his creation of a method that transforms hazardous industrial wastes into lucrative manufacturing ingredients.

A Mobile jury agreed, and awarded him $192 million in compensatory damages.

It was the third-largest jury award that year in the nation, according to a new edition of the legal magazine Lawyers USA.

Skip Finkbohner, of the Mobile firm of Cunningham Bounds, declined to comment on what he called the “negotiated resolution” of the jury award.

But he confirmed the $40 million settlement figure.

Mannsfeld, Finkbohner said, was out of the country.

According to Finkbohner, Mannsfeld conceived in the late 1990s his idea of using hazardous waste materials as building products in the manufacture of items such as tires.

In 2004, Mannsfeld came to realize that the defendants were using his idea and had even devised patents for the process in Germany, Belgium, the European Union and the United States.

Mobile attorney Jim Johnston, who helped represent the companies at the trial, declined to comment Wednesday.

Finkbohner said that negotiations came last spring.

He said Mannsfeld was always “incredulous” that his rightful claim was not just ignored, but denied.

“It was gratifying that his role and his genius were vindicated,” Finkbohner said. “At the same time, the defendant was able to come to the table and reach a resolution in a manner that it could live with and was certainly not crippling.”

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