2024 J. Stephen Ravel Award – Brian Nash

I wanted to extend my congratulations to Brian Nash who, earlier this month, was the first recipient of the J. Stephen Ravel Award, which was presented by John Guaragna at the inaugural Central Texas Bench Bar Conference in Austin.  The J. Stephen Ravel award will be presented annually to a lawyer practicing before the federal courts in Central Texas who exemplifies the extraordinary qualities of our late colleague Steve Ravel.  Steve, who passed away suddenly in 2023, was an incredibly accomplished attorney and good friend to many among the Federal Bar in Central Texas.  Steve was a gregarious and charismatic lawyer who displayed unmatched collegiality, professionalism and integrity in all that he did.  With a friendly nature and incessant positive spirit, Steve exemplified the idea that lawyers could sometimes disagree – without being disagreeable. Upon his passing, I had this to say about Steve and his legacy:  “Steve was always such a pleasure to work with in whatever capacity – with him, against him … – it didn’t matter. He was always the first person you wanted to say hello to when you walked into a room – but he’d always beat you to it.  I never saw him start or end a visit without a smile on his face, and like many reading this, I am acutely aware that my life is smaller, darker, and grumpier without him in it.  But I am reminded that we can all choose to emulate Steve and be that light for those around us.”  

Post-Trial Motions

Yes, post-trial motions and collections of World War II carrier aircraft are both favorite topics of mine, but that’s not why you’re seeing a collection of TBD-1s at the top of this post. You’re seeing it because the process of researching and building multiple iterations of the same subject but each with its own variations is analogous to Judge Sean Jordan’s order resolving multiple post trial motions in this 10-plaintiff employment discrimination case, which required careful analysis of the evidence adduced at trial as to each claim against each defendant.

Opposed Motion to Compel Appraisal and Abate Litigation Pending the Outcome of Appraisal Recommended Granted

The document has nothing to do with this post, which is just to memorialize my first post on an order by new EDTX Magistrate Judge Aileen Goldman Durrett, whose investiture I attended Friday afternoon in Sherman – at which she was recognized as having worked for the Eastern District longer than any of its judges, and at which I had one of these cookies. But if you insist, the attached report recommended that Defendant’s Motion to Compel Appraisal and Abate Litigation Pending the Outcome of Appraisal should be granted, and further recommended that the Parties should be COMPELLED to participate in appraisal in accordance with the contract and that the instant lawsuit and all future deadlines should be ABATED pending the outcome of the appraisal. Congratulations Judge Durrett!

Motion to Dismiss Granted in Part

Judge Gilstrap granted the motion to dismiss the claims of direct infringement, agreeing with Defendant that Plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the accused products meet each and every element of the two asserted claims. The court also granted the motion as to the pre-suit claims of indirect and willful infringement, but denied the motion in all other respects, and granted leave to replead.

Two WDTX Vacancies Filled

The Senate approved two of President Biden’s nominees for the Western District of Texas last Friday. It voted 88-7 on Friday to confirm Ernest Gonzalez, a senior attorney adviser in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section, and then 90-8 to confirm El Paso Magistrate Judge Leon Schydlower, who has been on the bench since 2016. Mr. Gonzalez was a EDTX AUSA from 2003 to 2023, and was originally nominated for the position created when Judge Montalvo of WDTX – El Paso took senior status position, but was then renominated for the vacancy created when Judge Martinez of WDTX – El Paso passed. Judge Schydlower was the reverse – he was nominated for the Martinez vacancy, then withdrawn and renominated for the Montalvo one. Both positions were classified as judicial emergencies.

No Sanctions for “Copy and Paste” Errors

Judge Albright adopted Judge Gilliland’s unobjected-to report and recommendation that Salesforce’s request for Rule 11 sanctions against WSOU be denied “[b]ecause Defendant waited to bring this Motion until years after Plaintiff filed the Original Complaint, until years after briefing on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss was complete, and until months after Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the current complaint”. That the conduct was only “copy-and-paste” errors was a separate grounds for denial.

The Chicken, The Egg, and the The Frying Pan

You know how parties sometimes get locked into endless discovery loops, whereby a defendant refuses to produce source code of its products without more specific infringement contentions narrowing the list of accused products and services, and the plaintiff refuses to serve more specific infringement contentions without the defendant producing source code that could lead to a more informed narrowing of the contentions? What Judge Gilstrap describes as the “chicken or egg” situation where each side says they can’t move until the other party goes first? Yeah, this is that, and both the chicken and the egg have been threatened with sanctions.