Describing the actions of Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) as "outrageous" and "extortionate," management at Exide Corporation responded today to a lawsuit filed by JCI against the company. Earlier this month Robert A. Lutz, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and John R. Van Zile, General Counsel, were contacted by both the chief operating officer and general counsel of JCI. In those contacts JCI threatened to sue Exide, claiming JCI lost a significant customer (Sears) to Exide in 1994 because of improper payments made by Exide's former management to a Sears employee. Each JCI officer said JCI would drop the claim, which they valued at $50 to $100 million, if Exide would make certain commercial concessions to JCI.