Damage experts don’t always agree regarding the appropriate discount rate and underlying methodology for a lost earnings claim and certain commonly applied methods actually provide a windfall to Plaintiffs. The chosen rate can make a meaningful difference in the economic damages conclusion. A recent article, "Lost Compensation Settlement Tool Allows You To Assess Economic Damages Accurately And Efficiently, Under Various Scenarios", demonstrates the significance of the applied rate on damages.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has opened the door significantly wider for those who wish to pursue qui tam False Claims Act suits by reversing a dismissal of two such matters. Ruling en banc in United States ex rel. Hartpence v. Kinetic Concepts, Inc., the Ninth Circuit has removed a prior restriction that any prior public disclosure must have originated from the whistleblower as well.
A recent case addressed the interesting question of whether a corporation could serve as an expert witness. The matter involved a breach of fiduciary duty case coordinated with an appraisal proceeding, in re Dole Food Company ("Dole"). The defendants designated Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated ("Stifel"), a corporation, to serve as their expert witness regarding the value of Dole.
Royalty arrangements within patent licenses have long been constrained by an almost 50 year old Supreme Court decision in Brulotte v. Thys Co that prevents collection of royalties after a patent has expired. The Justices have now agreed to revisit the precedent set by that often-criticized ruling in a current case, Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
In a recent case involving the City of Pomona ("Pomona") v. SQM North America Corporation ("SQM"), Pomona alleged that SQM's importation of sodium nitrate for fertilizer caused a perchlorate contamination in the city. Although the district court excluded under Daubert the expert testimony of Pomona's expert witness on causation, the Ninth Circuit reversed the ruling, stating that "facts casting doubt on the credibility of an expert witness and contested facts regarding the strength of a particular scientific method are questions reserved for the fact finder". The case was remanded for trial.
In association with general cost cutting measures over recent years, many companies have pressured their vendors to reduce fees. This downward pressure has extended to the accounting firms hired to provide independent audit opinions, resulting in a significant drop in audit fees. According to Audit Analytics, audit fees in 2012 were $472 per $1 million of revenue, the lowest amount since 2004. The question is whether audit quality has been sacrificed in order to achieve these reductions.
The Eastern District of Texas is well known for its intense patent activity and already provides early disclosure of infringement and invalidity contentions to facilitate faster resolution of these cases. The Court has now taken similar action by providing an option for accelerated damage discovery, including requiring a two week turnaround between defendant's production of potentially infringing sales data and plaintiff's good faith estimate of damages. Accomplishing this will require expert assistance immediately in the process. Even for cases that do not settle, this damage estimate will inform the Court's discovery decisions and resource allocations.
In the course of affirming the district court's decision in Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., 2013 WL 6017396, Judge Posner went a step further. While upholding the injunction, he ended his assessment with some comments "for future reference" when it comes to consumer surveys offered to demonstrate consumer confusion in support of a trademark infringement claim:
A recently affirmed decision to grant judgment for the defendant as a matter of law highlights the importance of expert testimony that is consistent with previously-disclosed opinions presented in a Rule 26 report. In Rembrandt Vision Technologies, Inc. v. Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., the expert's testimony was struck because of critical discrepancies, leaving the plaintiff with no basis for claimed patent infringement.
The decision in United States vs. Windsor (No. 12-301, June 26, 2013) by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) creates important tax issues and opportunities. These include potential refunds for same-sex married couples and their employers for years not closed by the statute of limitations.