The best case caption ever is wasted on a run of the mill business dispute between a company that buys equipment and a cosmetics company looking to dispose of some – but no, not this equipment. Hey guys, are you interested in the closet full of BeautiControl we’re warehousing in the downstairs hall out on Harris Lake Road?
Yeah, there’s a fight over personal jurisdiction and the Court concluded that there wasn’t any with the usual “reasonably expected” and “purposeful availment” analysis, but who cares? I’m still bummed about all that obsolete skin care product I am sneaking out of the house to the dumpster one bottle at a time hoping my wife won’t notice before one of us dies.
As she is smiling, the woman in the picture is most definitely not the plaintiff in this case from the Sherman Division involving gym lockers gone horribly, horribly wrong.
FCA Monday this week is a quick look at settlements and judgments in FCA litigation in the Eastern District of Texas. The agreed judgment in this mid-six figure case contains recitals reflecting the facts of the case, as well as a copy of the settlement agreement that sets forth the claims in this case which involved Medicare overbilling for medical imaging services. These also include the terms of the payments to be made to the named Relators.
This is a particularly interesting opinion resolving multiple competing summary judgment motions in an employment case against a county brought by a female doctor who discovered she was being paid less than a subsequently hired male doctor. What makes this case interesting is that the EEOC filed suit against the county on behalf of the doctor, and then the EEOC, and the county filed cross motions for summary judgment against each other as well as against the doctor.
One of the more annoying recent FRCP amendments moved section (f) of FRCP 56 to Section (d), so that the habit of referencing “56(f) motions” seeking an extension of the time to respond to a motion for summary judgment to obtain additional discovery must now be changed to reflect references to 56(d) – which of course no one yet recognizes as the same thing. (Law clerks don’t count).
Contested Rule 56(d) motions are actually fairly rare in practice since most motions are filed after the close of discovery, and where they are not, or additional discovery is still needed, parties frequently work out by agreement the time necessary to obtain the additional discovery. Which makes an order like this that pops the hood on 56(d) to tell us what arguments courts find persuasive particularly useful.
Apparently experts are an issue in the black dirt part of the district as well, judging by these opinions from Judge Mazzant last week. They cover topics ranging from the “rebuttal” issue Judge Payne also addressed last week to lawyer-written reports, sick experts, and other more bespoke subjects.
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.