Harbinger sues Deere and GPS companies for $1.9 billion in damages

NEW YORK Fri Aug 9, 2013 1:43pm EDT

Philip Falcone, chief executive officer and chief investment officer for Harbinger Capital Partners, participates in a panel discussion during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May, 9, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Philip Falcone, chief executive officer and chief investment officer for Harbinger Capital Partners, participates in a panel discussion during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May, 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Philip Falcone's Harbinger Capital on Friday sued agricultural equipment maker Deere & Co and Global Positioning System companies and groups for damages of $1.9 billion as it looks to recoup its investment in bankrupt wireless company LightSquared.

The lawsuit's defendants, who include GPS companies Garmin International and Trimble Navigation Ltd, had opposed LightSquared's plans to build a wireless network because of concerns it would interfere with GPS systems, which are used in everything from farming to airline navigation.

Other defendants include industry groups the U.S. GPS Industry Council and the Coalition to Save Our GPS.

Harbinger, which has spent billions of dollars on LightSquared, said in a complaint filed on Friday that it never would have made the investments if the GPS industry had disclosed potential interference problems between the LightSquared spectrum and GPS equipment between 2002 and 2009.

The hedge fund accused the defendants of fraud and negligent misrepresentation among other allegations, saying the defendants "knew years ago" all the material facts on which they based their opposition to the LightSquared network.

Deere declined to comment on the case. Garmin and Trimble representatives were not immediately available for comment.

LightSquared filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2012 after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission revoked permission to build out a new high-speed wireless network after tests showed that its network would interfere with GPS systems.

Harbinger filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Garmin International is a subsidiary of Garmin Ltd.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew in New York, James B. Kelleher in Chicago, and Neha Alawadhi in Bangalore; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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