John Deere, Trimble and Garmin sued by hedge fund over bankrupt wireless company LightSquared

Updated Aug 12, 2013


John Deere and Trimble have been named on the wrong end of a billion-dollar lawsuit along with GPS maker Garmin.

Harbinger Capital Partners, a New York-based private hedge fund, on Friday filed a lawsuit against Deere and GPS companies Garmin International and Trimble Navigation Ltd for damages of $1.9 billion, according to a report from Reuters.

Why? Harbinger invested billions in now-bankrupt wireless company LightSquared who was blocked by the government from building out its planned network. Harbinger contends that failure was chiefly due to opposition and from Deere, Trimble and Garmin.

The three defendants opposed LightSquared’s build out because they voiced concerns that the network would interfere with GPS systems used in farming and construction all the way up to commercial airline navigation.

In the end, the FCC agreed with the three defendants and did not grant LightSquared federal approval to build. LightSquared filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2012.

The lawsuit also names the U.S. GPS Industry Council and the Coalition to Save Our GPS.

Harbinger states in the lawsuit that it would not have so heavily invested in LightSquared “if the GPS industry had disclosed potential interference problems between the LightSquared spectrum and GPS equipment between 2002 and 2009.”

In fact, the lawsuit goes even further, accusing the defendants of fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

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