Judge Holds Trial Firm Liable for Fees

by Peter Morin on February 26, 2008

U. S District Court Judge Robert Matsch recently got so infuriated by the conduct of McDermott, Will and Emery attorneys Terrance McMahon and Vera Elson that he overturned a jury’s $51 million verdict, then ordered the lawyers to pay the fees and costs of the opposing lawyers, a sum that could total several million dollars. (Denver Post, Feb. 25)

From the decision (Medtronic Navigation, Inc. v. BrainLAB Medizinische, 2008 WL 410413):

In essence, the response from the plaintiff and MWE, through new counsel, is that the Court had the obligation to stop any trial conduct that stepped over the line of zealous advocacy. In short, they argue that they should not be held responsible for what they were able to get away with during the trial presentation. The adamant denial that there was any abuse of advocacy in this case is in disregard of what this Court has already concluded and displays the same arrogance that has colored this case almost from its inception. Throughout these proceedings Medtronic and the MWE lawyers have demonstrated that when they are faced with adverse court rulings, they proceed undeterred, with only superficial observance of the court’s determinations. Such conduct supports the conclusion that after the Markman rulings, Medtronic’s primary objective in pursuing this litigation was to put economic pressure on its competitor in the market.

Medtronic’s counsel proceeded cavalierly, with reckless indifference to the merits of Medtronic’s infringement claims. The continued prosecution of a claim after its lack of merit has become apparent warrants sanctions under § 1927. At trial, MWE’s conduct was in disregard for the duty of candor, reflecting an attitude of “what can I get away with?” Throughout the trial, the MWE lawyers artfully avoided the limitations of the patent claims and created an illusion of infringement. They did so with full awareness that their case was without merit.

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Update: “McDermott, Client Sanctioned $4.3 Million”
10.08.08 at 7:22 am

{ 2 comments }

1 TC 02.27.08 at 11:15 am

Oh how to make a country boy grin like a mule eatin briar’s!

2 Deoxy 02.27.08 at 4:33 pm

Sadly, one wonders how this differs for th bahaviour of countless of attorneys in courtrooms each day. Certainly, not all, mind you, and I do not even think it the majority, but usually, “what I can get away with” is essentially, “EVERYTHING!”

It would be nice if this kind of ruling were more common, as the conduct meriting this kind of ruling certainly is.

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