Medtronic Hit With Two Huge Fee Awards
It has not been all good news this month for Medtronic Inc. Yes, it won a major victory in the Supreme Court last week when the court ruled in Riegel v. Medtronic that federal law preempted state common law claims over the safety of a medical device it manufactured. But elsewhere in February, federal judges in two states slapped separate Medtronic divisions with huge attorneys' fees awards over their litigation tactics in patent cases -- one in Massachusetts for $10 million-plus and another in Colorado expected to total several million dollars.
The $10 million award came Monday from U.S. District Senior Judge Edward F. Harrington against Medtronic Sofamor Danek Inc. for resisting the construction of the patent claims mandated by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals earlier in the case. "The defendants prolonged the proceedings unnecessarily (thus unduly imposing upon the jury's time), they sought to mislead both the jury and the Court, and they flouted the governing claim construction as set forth by the Federal Circuit," Harrington wrote in imposing the $10 million sanction. In addition, he ordered payment of 15 percent of plaintiffs' attorneys' fees from the date of the Federal Circuit's mandate through the date of the verdict. The case is Depuy Spine Inc. v. Medtronic Sofamor Danek Inc.
In Colorado, U.S. District Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch was so infuriated by the trial conduct of counsel for Medtronic Navigation Inc. that he had already overturned a jury's $51 million verdict in its favor, as The Denver Post reports. Then, on Feb. 12, he ordered Medtronic to pay the fees and costs of defendant BrainLAB Inc., a German company, an award estimated to total several million dollars. In ordering the sanction, Matsch cited the "cavalier and abusive" conduct of two McDermott, Will & Emery lawyers during the 13-day patent-infringement trial.
We can assume that Medtronic will be heading back up the appellate ladder.
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 27, 2008 at 01:02 PM | Permalink
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