In this edition of Litigation Roundup, Samsung agrees to a $150 million settlement in an intellectual property suit, a group of Texas lawyers secures a $42 million win against Boston Scientific in Delaware and U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes gets reversed, again.
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Harris County District Court
Uber Sued by Family Trying to Identify Hit-and-Run Driver
The family of a Houston man has sued rideshare company Uber alleging it has refused to identify the driver who hit their loved one, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury and permanent brain damage.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Joaquin Iraheta alleges that he requested an Uber pick him up from a bar in midtown in July, but that the driver instead struck Iraheta with his car and fled the scene.
The suit, filed in November, named the midtown bar that allegedly overserved him, Shot Bar, as the only defendant. On Feb. 1 an amended petition was filed that added Uber after the family said it made multiple unsuccessful attempts to contact the company to identify the driver.
“One would think that a company like Uber would want their driver to face the consequences of their actions,” said Iraheta’s attorney, Mo Aziz of Abraham Watkins Nichols Agosto Aziz & Stogner in a news release. “Instead, Uber has failed to provide any information regarding the identity of the driver.”
Prior to the incident, Iraheta was an electrical engineer and project manager in Houston, but he may not be able to work again, his attorney said.
Iraheta is also represented by Alicia Patterson of Abraham Watkins Nichols Agosto Aziz & Stogner.
Shot Bar is represented by Joseph Andrew Love and Brandon Flack of Wright Close & Barger. Counsel for Uber had not appeared as of Monday.
The case number is 2022-73019.
Eastern District of Texas
Samsung Settles IP Suit For $150M
A nanotech firm recently announced it had reached a settlement with Samsung Electronics and Samsung Electronics America in a nearly 3-year-old lawsuit that accused the company of infringing a patent through the “quantum dots” used in Samsung LED televisions.
Nanoco Group issued notice that a $150 million settlement had been reached on Feb. 3, bringing an end to the litigation that also underwent inter partes review before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
The parties filed a joint notice with U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap on Jan. 6 seeking a stay and indicating that a settlement had been reached and that the parties would file a stipulation of dismissal within 30 days. Jury selection had been slated to begin that same day, court records show.
Nanoco describes itself as a “world leader” in developing and manufacturing cadmium-free quantum dots, which are used to aid backlighting of LED displays. The settlement the parties reached includes a license agreement and the transfer of certain patents.
As of Monday afternoon, the stipulation of dismissal had not been filed.
Nanoco is represented by Michael Newman, Peter Cuomo, Matthew Galica, Thomas Wintner and James Wodarski of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, Bradley W. Caldwell, John Austin Curry, Warren J. McCarty III, Hamad M. Hamad and R. Seth Reich Jr. of Caldwell Cassady Curry and Claire Abernathy Henry of Ward Smith & Hill.
The case number is 2:20-cv-00038.
U.S. District Court in Delaware
Texas Lawyers Score $42M Verdict Against Boston Scientific
A federal jury on Jan. 31 issued a $42 million verdict against Boston Scientific Corp. in a patent infringement case brought by the University of Texas Board of Regents and TissueGen Inc. related to a biodegradable polymer fiber drug delivery system.
The jury deliberated nearly three hours before determining Boston Scientific had willfully infringed the patent that was issued in July 2003 to inventor Kevin Nelson, who was a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington before founding TissueGen.
The patented technology is used to release therapeutic agents to a specifically-targeted location inside of a patient and at a variable rate, according to court documents.
Boston Scientific had incorporated the drug delivery system into its Synergy-branded coronary stents, jurors were told, after the company’s executives heard about the technology at a conference and in email exchanges.
TissueGen and UT had asked the jury to award about $52 million in damages.
U.S. District Judge Gregory B. Williams presided over the bifurcated five-day trial.
UT and TissueGen are represented by John Lahad and Corey Lipschutz of Susman Godfrey, Michael Shore, Chijioke Offor and Alex Jacobs of The Shore Firm and Stamatios Stamoulis of Stamoulis & Weinblatt.
Boston Scientific is represented by Michael J. Farnan and Brian E. Farnan of Farnan LLP, Chad Drown, Timothy E. Grimsrud, Katherine S. Razavi, Lauren J.F. Barta, David J.F. Gross and Christopher J. Burrell of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath and Melissa A. Anyetei, James R. Ferguson and Michael J. Word of Mayer Brown.
The case number is 1:18-cv-00392.
Federal Court, TBD
Paxton Plans to Sue Over Lesser Prairie-Chicken Designation
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday he’s laid the groundwork to bring a suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service challenging a new rule that listed the lesser prairie-chicken as “threatened” and “endangered” in parts of its habitat that spans Texas.
Paxton said he’s filed the requisite notice of intent to sue with the federal government and will proceed with a challenge to the rule he said was implemented without adequate consideration of ongoing conservation measures and in violation of federal law.
The rule, Paxton said, will saddle Texas property owners with onerous new regulations
“This rule was a targeted attempt to implement an unlawful, top-down federal approach aimed at advancing a radical environmentalist agenda, which would crush the type of economic development that aids in providing funds for conservation,” he said.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Judge Hughes Reversed in Flood Case Against Feds
A lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alleging it failed to comply with regulatory obligations, which contributed to major flooding events in the Houston area in 2016 and 2017, has been revived.
In an opinion issued Feb. 2, the judges determined that Fort Bend County, Fort Bend County Drainage District and Cinco Municipal Utility District No. 1 should have their lawsuit revived. Those entities sued over flood damage upstream of the Barker Reservoir, alleging the government failed to purchase enough easement land to contain the floodwaters it intends to store there, damaging private property in the process.
The two major flooding events at issue in this litigation are the so-called Tax Day Floods that happened across the Houston area April 15, 2016, and Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the region in August 2017.
The local government entities brought suit in May 2018, alleging the water control manual the USACE relies on to determine when to close or open the reservoir gates in response to floodwater conditions failed to account for the effect floodwater would have on private property.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, who was assigned the case, denied the local government parties’ discovery request and then dismissed the case with prejudice, holding the suit belonged in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
On appeal, the local government entities sought not only to revive the claims but to get the case reassigned to a different judge, arguing his denial of limited discovery and his wholesale adoption of the USACE’s “self-serving” narrative of the facts of the case mean they won’t get a fair trial.
The panel held that the local government parties had raised a fact issue as to whether the federal government should have purchased more easement land, that it belongs in federal district court and that it should be revived.
But as for Judge Hughes’ conduct, the panel said he hadn’t shown “an inability to be impartial.”
“Though some of the district judge’s rulings were unconventional, we do not believe his actions would ‘reasonably cause an objective observer to question [the judge’s] impartiality,’” the panel wrote. “Conversely, reassigning the case to another judge would likely entail waste and duplication out of proportion to any gain in the appearance of fairness.”
Judges James L. Dennis, Leslie H. Southwick and Cory T. Wilson sat on the panel.
USACE is represented by Brian C. Toth of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Fort Bend County entities are represented by Keith W. Lapeze of Lapeze & Johns, Eric Brian Storm of Storm Law Firm and solo practitioner David J. Tuckfield.
The case number is 21-20174.