Back on February 5, I posted on Judge Mazzant’s January 16 decision concluding that the Texas Anti-SLAPP statute did not apply in federal court. This afternoon Westlaw published a report and recommendation by a magistrate judge issued the day before which granted an Anti-SLAPP motion. When I checked to see if it was still in effect, I saw that it had been withdrawn, but had generated a show cause order and a flurry of briefing that I thought readers might be interested in regarding counsel’s duty of candor to the court.
Back across the street yesterday for scheduling conferences in patent cases, followed by scheduling conferences in everything else. The cases discussed below are for Judge Gilstrap’s share of the Marshall patent docket, as well as the Lufkin patent docket and one Sherman patent case.
This is a Markman ruling that concluded that a claim term was indefinite. The Court set forth the current standards for such an argument before concluding that the term had been shown by clear and convincing evidence to be indefinite in light of the court’s other constructions. The opinion also addresses several times the argument that a claim term should be given its plain meaning, and provides a good set of examples for when this argument will be accepted.
Section 101 motions asserting lack of patentable subject matter are sometimes brought as motions for judgment on the pleadings under FRCP 12(c). After reading this order, I think I might reconsider whether that’s a good idea.
Whenever the makeup on a district court’s bench changes, though retirements or the addition of new judges, the docket is reallocated. Last week saw a significant reallocation of the Eastern District’s cases due to the arrival on the bench of Judge Jeremy Kernodle in Tyler and changes in Senior Judge Ron Clark’s docket. I wanted to go through the changes and what they mean in the affected divisions.
One of the commonly cited uses for a motion to dismiss to to identify and cut out of a case claims or defenses which don’t have support, either in the law or in the facts of the case. Such motions serve the useful purpose of pruning cases back to what’s actually at issue, although I have an editorial comment on that below.
But as with any pruning job, there’s a line between cutting off the dead wood and cutting out causes of action that are still at least potentially live. This recent EDTX case illustrates where this line is with respect to pleaded claims.
Did you know there was a Texas Business Opportunities Act? I did not know that. But here it is, one of the pleaded causes of action in a case brought by unhappy franchisees of a non-surgical weight loss business. Which brings up another thing I’d never heard of before – a Sculpt Pod. Oh sure, I saw it in Little Shop of Horrors but as a legit weight loss device?
All of which, of course, cannot help but generate a motion to remand this very interesting set of facts and causes of action to back to state court, with some interesting observations by the Court on when a claim arises under federal law.
I’ve seen a couple of cases recently out of the EDTX dealing with breaches of settlement agreements. In some cases the complaining plaintiff (who in this case was the original plaintiff) seeks injunctive relief, but in this copyright case it is just seeking an order in a default situation that it is entitled to the unpaid payments due under the original agreement, as well as fees, costs, and since the infringing activity has resumed, a finding of liability and award of statutory damages. In essence, the hole for the copyright defendant just got twice as deep. (Pro tip: don’t default).
Admittedly this is a default situation, but it’s a nice template for what to seek when you have to go once more unto the breach.
This EDTX qui tam False Claim Act case deals with allegations arising out of mortgage practices, and offers a good example of the application of FRCP 12(e-f) (more definite statement/scandalous matters) to pleadings in the FCA “fraud” context.
It’s FCA Monday again, and this week’s case deals with the discoverability of certain information relating to damages in a False Claims Act case. As with many FCA cases, this one arises out of health care related payments which resulted in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements by the government. The specific requests here were to the government, and asked for information regarding the payment of similar claims after the government learned of the claimed violation in this case.