Some of the most fun you can have in a courthouse is trying to enforce a settlement, or defend against one you didn’t think you had. Unfortunately for legal scholars like you, dear reader, there are not a lot of cases that go to the mat hard enough on this issue of contract interpretation to generate a written opinion with tests and prongs and all that good stuff.
That’s why I was particularly interested to see this recent opinion affirming a magistrate judge’s recommendation that such a motion be denied.
This is a proposed national class action dealing with annuity contracts. Defendants sought summary judgment as to the plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract claims. The Court’s ruling had something for each side.
Spoiler alert: they’re both granted in part.
But it’s always worth laying out the facts in motions to compel to see what the court found justified relief and what didn’t. In addition, this is the rare order that even mentions the new “proportionality” standard in amended Rule 26.
Today appears to be former employee day, topped off with the first seizure order I’ve seen under the still relatively new Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which is what we used to call UTSA, or TUTSA or TTSA back when it was common law or Texas statutory law. In this case, a former employee is alleged to have taken the company’s trade secrets. Judge Mazzant authorized seizure of a laptop belonging to the company in the employee’s possession, but the laptop couldn’t be found, which set the stage for the injunction proceeding as well as additional excitement for the defendants’ electronic devices.
You know those cases where an employee leaves the company and after being sued by the employee the company discovers that some things happened to documents relating to the claim? This is one of those cases, and the aspect we’re looking at is the motion for sanctions arising out of the alleged destruction of documents alleged by be relevant to the claims by the former employee.
It was literally a dark and stormy night in Lavon, Texas when the plaintiff’s home, including allegedly the brick veneer, was damaged in a hailstorm/windstorm. The insurance claim that arose out of that storm generated a recent order granting only a wee bit of a motion to exclude an expert witness in the Sherman Division.
This is a trademark and unfair competition case. The case ended with an injunction, which was then followed by the defendant taking bankruptcy. Plaintiff, however, continued to see the Defendant violating the injunction through its social media posts, and filed a motion for contempt, which is where the interesting part started.
There are a number of significant recent venue opinions in the past few days – significant because they’re all from different judges. The week is getting busy with hearings and hearing prep, but I wanted to start rolling out commentary, beginning with this one from Judge Mazzant in Sherman.
It’s a sad day with Jason Witten retiring from our beloved Cowboys, so I decided I had to wear the jersey to work. Which made for interesting sidewalk conversation when I asked a herd of lawyers headed past my office how they were expecting their hearing with Judge Gilstrap to go, where they were on the docket, and which pretrial motions they had rulings on already. (This time next week Law.com will probably be running a story about how homeless people in Marshall quiz visiting lawyers about federal civil procedure).
But life goes on … as it did for the parties in this case in which Judge Mazzant entered judgment for $24 million and change following a jury verdict last fall in which the jury found that there was no patent infringement but that there was a breach of contract, specifically a confidentiality agreement, and assessed $15 million in damages.
Some afternoons it’s not the weather than sends chills down your spine but the thought that you could have been in a party’s position in a case you’re reading. In the attached, Judge Mazzant denied a party’s motion to withdraw a party’s motion to withdraw and amend deemed admissions. The order provides a useful guide on what facts are important when you find yourself in a similar situation. Or, let’s be clear here – how not to respond to discovery requests.