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Greatbatch Ltd. v. AVX Corp.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 30, 2018

GREATBATCH LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
AVX CORPORATION and AVX FILTERS CORPORATION, Defendants.

          Brian E. Farnan, FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE James R. Muldoon, HARRIS BEACH PLLC, Syracuse, NY Neal L. Slifkin, Laura W. Smalley, Steven P. Nonkes, HARRIS BEACH PLLC, Pittsford, NY Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Robert W. Whetzel, Chad M. Shandler, Todd Coomes, Jason J. Rawnsley, RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE Ronald E. Cahill, Paul J. Cronin, James C. Hall, Heather B. Repicky, Alison C. Casey, NUTTER, MCCLENNEN & FISH LLP, Boston, MA Tim F. Williams, DORITY & MANNING, Greenville, SC Attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are the parties' - Plaintiff Greatbatch Ltd. ("Greatbatch" or "Plaintiff) and Defendants AVX Corporation and AVX Filters Corporation ("AVX" or "Defendants") - motions resulting from two jury trials: (1) AVX's motion to set aside the damages verdict and for a new trial on damages (D.I. 1066); and (2) Greatbatch's request for enhanced damages (D.I. 1067).[1] Briefing on the motions was completed on November 3, 2017. (D.I. 1067, 1068, 1078, 1080, 1091, 1093) Thereafter, the parties submitted notices of subsequent authority. (D.I. 1102, 1105) The Court heard oral argument on January 18, 2018. (See D.I. 1112) ("Tr.")

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant AVX's motion to set aside the damages verdict and for a new trial on damages and deny Greatbatch's request for enhanced damages.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This patent infringement case has charted a convoluted history. It involves four patents -the '095 patent, the '627 patent, the '715 patent, and the '779 patent - and three accused products - AVX's Frontier, NG3, and Ingenio filtered feedthroughs ("FFTs"), some of which come in multiple versions.

         Trial on all four patents was originally set to begin January 11, 2016. However, on January 5, 2016, the Court granted summary judgment that AVX's Ingenio FFTs infringed the '715 patent as a sanction for AVX's late production of core technical documents and deferred trial of the issues of willful infringement of the '715 patent and infringement of and damages for the '779 patent. (D.I. 573, 591)

         Thereafter, on January 11, 2016, the Court proceeded with an 11-day jury trial on the remaining issues: invalidity of all the patents-in-suit, infringement of the '627 and '095 patents, and damages regarding the '627, '095, and '715 patents. (See D.I. 689, 690, 691, 693, 694, 695, 696, 697, 698, 699, 700 (hereinafter, "2016 Tr.")) On January 26, 2016, the jury returned a verdict, finding infringement of claim 12 of the '627 patent by AVX's Frontier and NG3 products, infringement of claims 4, 6, and 9 of the '095 patent by AVX's Ingenio product, no invalidity of the '627, '095, '779, or '715 patents, [2] and a lump sum damages award to Greatbatch of $37.5 million for infringement of the '095, '627, '-and/of* '715 patents. (D.I. 625)

         On April 18, 2016, the Court granted AVX's motion for reconsideration of the Court's January 5, 2016 sanctions order, vacated its order granting summary judgment that AVX's Ingenio FFTs infringed the '715 patent, and held that "[t]o the extent Greatbatch intends to maintain its claim for damages for infringement of the '715 patent, Greatbatch will be permitted to try infringement of the '715 patent at a second jury trial to be scheduled at a future date.'* (D.I. 709 at 20)

         Beginning on August 7, 2017, the Court held a phased five-day jury trial (see D.I. 1060, 1061, 1062, 1063, 1064, 1065 (hereinafter, "2017 Tr.")) on the issues of infringement of the '715 and '779 patents and willful infringement of the '715 patent. Phase one resulted in a jury verdict of no infringement of the '715 patent by AVX's platinum-pin Ingenio FFTs, infringement of dependent claims 7 and 15 of the '715 patent by AVX's palladium-pin Ingenio FFTs with split washers and palladium-pin Ingenio FFTs with reduced diameter washers of less than 16 mils, and no infringement of the '779 patent. (D.I. 1030) In phase two, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict as to whether AVX's infringement of the '715 patent was willful. (D.I. 1035, 2017 Tr. at 1095)

         On August 28, 2017, the Court ordered the parties to provide briefing on: (1) "whether, assuming a new jury were to find AVX's infringement to be willful, the Court would or would not enhance damages;" and (2) "a motion to set aside the prior damages verdict and for a new trial on damages." (D.I. 1053 at 1-2)

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Motion to Set Aside Verdict and for a New Trial

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A) provides that a new trial may be granted "for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal court." Among the most common reasons for granting a new trial are: (1) the jury"s verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence and a new trial must be granted to prevent a miscarriage of justice, see Roebuck v. Drexel Univ., 852 F.2d 715, 717 (3d Cir. 1988); (2) newly discovered evidence exists that would likely alter the outcome of the trial, see Bohus v. Beloff, 950 F.2d 919, 930 (3d Cir. 1991); (3) improper conduct by an attorney or the court unfairly influenced the verdict, see Greenleaf v. Garlock, Inc., 174 F.3d 352, 363 (3d Cir. 1999); or (4) the jury's verdict was facially inconsistent, see Mosley v. Wilson, 102 F.3d 85, 90 (3d Cir. 1996).

         The decision to grant or deny a new trial is committed to the sound discretion of the district court. See Allied Chem. Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc., 449 U.S. 33, 36 (1980); Olefins Trading, Inc., v. Han Yang Chem. Corp., 9 F.3d 282, 289 (3d Cir. 1993) (reviewing district court*s grant or denial of new trial motion under deferential abuse of discretion standard). "In the Third Circuit, a jury verdict is not to be set aside merely on the basis of the Court substituting its judgment for that of the jury. Rather, the verdict must be permitted to stand if it is supported by evidence so long as nothing suggests that the decision was guided by partiality, prejudice, mistake, or corruption." Day v. Abumohor, 1992 WL 162958, at *1 (D. Del. June 19, 1992) (internal citations omitted).

         Where the ground for a new trial is that the jury's verdict was against the great weight of the evidence, the court should proceed cautiously, because such a ruling would necessarily substitute the court's judgment for that of the jury. See Klein v. Hollings, 992 F.2d 1285, 1290 (3d Cir. 1993). Although the standard for grant of a new trial is less rigorous than the standard for grant of judgment as a matter of law - in that the court need not view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict winner - a new trial grounded on the verdict being against the great weight of evidence should only be granted where "a miscarriage of justice would result if the verdict were to stand, " the verdict '"cries out to be overturned, " or where the verdict "shocks [the] conscience." Williamson v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 1344, 1352-53 (3d Cir. 1991). Moreover, "[w]here the subject matter of the litigation is simple and within a layman's understanding, the district court is given less freedom to scrutinize the jury's verdict than in a case that deals with complex factual determinations." Id. at 1352.

         B. ...


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