Eastern District of Texas: Past & Present

I enjoyed very much this special presentation hosted by the Grayson and Collin County Bar Associations and the Judge Paul Brown and Curt B. Henderson Inns of Court last week. Senior Judges Richard Schell and Ron Clark spoke on the history and unique culture of the district, moderated by U.S. District Judge Judge Sean Jordan. The high point for me was Judge Schell’s description of being chief judge as being like being president of a cemetery – you’re over a lot of people but nobody’s listening to you.

Motion to Transfer to WDWA Denied

Judge Payne denied Amazon’s motion seeking a transfer to Washington, finding that “Defendant’s generalized argument that documents are located in the Western District of Washington based on development efforts in Seattle is unpersuasive in light of the supporting assertions demonstrating that the documentary evidence is actually located on servers in Oregon or Virginia.” He also concluded, citing the Fifth Circuit’s guidance in In re Clarke, that “Amazon’s speculative statistics [the number of cases pending before each forum] carry little weight, and that the significantly lower time to trial in this District weighs against transfer.”

Tesla to California

Judge Ezra granted Tesla’s motion to transfer Graphite Charging’s patent infringement case against Tesla – filed in Tesla’s headquarters division of Austin, Texas – to California. Of interest, the specific facts regarding Tesla’s contacts with Austin are heavily redacted, so the metrics of Tesla’s contacts with Austin are not publicly available. But Judge Ezra noted that while Tesla did recently move its corporate headquarters to Austin, its engineering headquarters remain in NDCA, and the accused products were designed and developed primarily in the NDCA.

Jury Verdict Set Aside

Judge Gilstrap granted the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, setting aside the $6.6 million jury verdict that the plaintiff obtained last June. The reason was the court’s recent determination that there was not substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict that the defendant’s products were not sold in the US. The tale is a lengthy one.

Judge Stetson’s Observations For Lawyers

Judge Christine Stetson’s recent report and recommendations in the Molina v. Etech case included hearing transcripts which I thought generated some great tips for lawyers providing guidance when there is a judge involved. They are:

– When the Court calls you and leaves a message, you need to return that telephone call.

– I can’t help the fact that you don’t understand what I’m saying.

– It is not harassment for a party to engage in relevant discovery. It’s just not.

– You can speak when I’m done.

Good advice.

Discernible Objections to Stetson Overruled

Judge Truncale conducted a de novo review of Plaintiffs’ objections to Magistrate Judge Stetson’s report and recommendations in this employment case. (Seriously, the EDTX has a judge named Stetson). He overruled the objections and adopted her R & R granting in part the defendant’s motion to dismiss. I have attached both the report and Judge Truncale’s four-page order adopting it because it provides insight into what a district judge is looking for in objections to a magistrate’s judges R&R – which he didn’t find here. Yes, this is a pro se case, and perhaps that’s why the order contains more than a conclusory overruling of the objections, but that means we get analysis we usually don’t explaining to a litigant why their objections were not well-taken.

Motion to Stay Granted

Judge Gilstrap granted the defendant’s renewed motion to stay pending IPR under “[t]he specific facts of this unique case”, noting that review had been instituted on all of the claims of all of the asserted patents on multiple grounds, the Markman hearing had not yet been held, and while the defendant “could have acted sooner” it wasn’t enough to change the outcome. The court also noted that it didn’t matter that the PTAB had not expressly characterized the merits of the grounds for institution.