CLARKSBURG – A Glenville railroad contracting company says its competitor should pay it at least $1 million in compensatory damages after filing a lawsuit containing false allegations.
H&H Railroad Contracting filed a lawsuit Oct. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia against B&B Metals.
H&H's lawsuit follows a complaint B&B filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky alleging patent infringement.
"The Kentucky Action asserts that H&H is liable for infringement of United States Patent No. 7,406,919 entitled 'Method and Apparatus for Operating a Vehicle on Rails of a Railroad Track with Auxiliary Drive Assembly,'" the suit states. "The '919 Patent relates to auxiliary drive units that control truck movements on railroad tracks.
"In the Kentucky Action, the Defendant asserts that H&H has violated patent rights of Plaintiff arising under the '919 Patent by continuing to use certain auxiliary drives provided to H&H by Defendant."
Before B&B filed its complaint in April, it and H&H had a business relationship and worked together to assist in railroad repairs.
For example, both companies distributed tie plates to railroads when the plates become worn, according to the complaint. Tie plates are designed to bind rails, on which the train travels, to ties, which lie underneath the rails.
Now competitors, B&B and H&H are fighting to obtain work from Norfolk Southern Corporation and other railroads, the complaint says.
H&H claims it developed a superior tie plate distribution machine that allows the company to perform its work in a faster and more efficient manner. In turn, it attracted more business from Norfolk Southern.
Because it wanted to reclaim some of the work H&H took from it, B&B filed its lawsuit, according to the complaint.
"The purpose and intent of Defendant in filing the Kentucky Action was to harm the business reputation and business prospects of H&H, and obtain a competitive advantage," the suit states. "The suit was filed in order to create a colorable basis for statements, threats or insinuations to Norfolk Southern and other prospective customers that H&H was not a reliable provider of services, or was otherwise an unsuitable company with which to do business."
As a result of B&B's communication with its potential and existing customers, H&H has lost most of its work, including work it performed for Norfolk Southern, the complaint says. In addition, the company claims it lost income and suffered irreparable damage to its goodwill and reputation.
In the three-count suit, H&H says it should receive at least $1 million in compensatory damages, an unspecified amount of punitive damages and other relief the court deems just. In addition, the court should issue a permanent injunction prohibiting B&B from further interference with H&H's business relationships, H&H says.
Gordon H. Copland and Edmund L. Wagoner of Steptoe & Johnson in Clarksburg will be representing H&H.
U.S. District Court case number: 1:09-cv-146