NEW YORK — Three Brazilian corporations have filed a billion-dollar civil lawsuit against American Telephone & Telegraph Co. over the communication giant's withdrawal from a joint telephone book venture.
The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan and disclosed Thursday, seeks at least $1.4 billion in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages from AT&T and a subsidiary, AT&T International.
The lawsuit charged fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty for AT&T International's alleged "abrupt and unjustified withdrawal" from a joint venture to publish telephone directories in several major Brazilian cities and states.
The action was brought by Brasil Informatica E Technologia Ltda., also known as BIT, a Rio de Janeiro-based computer and telecommunications concern.
The other plaintiffs were Stratos-Administracao E Participacoes Ltda., a BIT subsidiary, and Tele Listas Editora S.A., the joint venture created to provide telephone directories.
There was no answer at AT&T offices Thursday afternoon when called for comment.
The lawsuit claimed that Tele Listas lost $850 million in estimated profit when AT&T International withdrew in April, 1984, two weeks before the deadline for bidding on a contract to provide directories for Sao Paulo.
The lawsuit also claimed that Tele Listas successfully bid on the contracts for Rio de Janeiro and the state of Bahia in another deal with AT&T International. But in November, 1985, the U.S. concern again withdrew "unilaterally and immediately" from the joint venture.
Tele Listas was unable to find a replacement partner before the Dec. 18, 1985, deadline and lost an estimated $560 million more, the suit charged.