284/285 Time: Orders on Motions for Enhanced Damages and Attorneys Fees

In an average year about fifteen patent cases are tried in the Eastern District of Texas.  Statistically, about half are complete defense verdicts, and of the remaining ones, only a few have willfulness findings, so it’s a rare case that presents both a Section 284 claim for enhanced damages and a Section 285 claim for exceptional cases status. When we do have them it allows analysis of which conduct supports (or doesn’t) an award, since courts try to ensure that a party isn’t inadvertently penalized twice for the same conduct.  But a recent case out of Beaumont presents both, and provides some useful insight into a trial court’s calculation of enhanced damages, as well as the more frequently presented question of whether a case is “exceptional” for Section 285 purposes. 

Expert testimony excluded in product liability case

When I started practicing law just a few weeks shy of 25 years ago, the most common cases I worked on were product liability cases, in which plaintiffs asserted that defective products, most commonly motor vehicles, caused injuries or death. While these cases are rarer than they once were, they still show up from time to time, and a perennial issue in them is the admissibility of testimony of the parties’ expert witnesses on the various issues in the case, including the existence of a defect, whether the defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. In this case, Judge Clark recently resolved two motions dealing with expert testimony in a vehicle product liability case. In the first, 

Beaumont jury awards $20.34 million in medical device case

Last week a Beaumont jury in Chief Judge Ron Clark’s court returned a verdict in favor off the plaintiff in Barry v. Medtronic, which dealt with devices used in scoliosis surgeries.  It found all the asserted claims infringed and willfully so, and that none of the defensive issues had been shown by clear and convincing evidence.  It awarded a total of $20,346,390.