Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Raytheon filed a patent infringement action against Cray in the Eastern District of Texas. Cray is a Washington corporation with its principal place of business there. It also maintains facilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, and Texas. Although Cray does not rent or own any property in the Eastern District of Texas, it allowed Harless, a sales executive, and Testa, a senior territory manager, to work remotely from their homes in that district. Harless provided price quotations to customers, in communications that identified his home telephone number as his “office” telephone number with an Eastern District of Texas area code. Cray never paid Harless for the use of his home nor advertised or otherwise indicated that his home was a Cray place of business. Cray moved to transfer the suit. The district court denied a transfer. The Federal Circuit directed the transfer of the case, citing the Supreme Court’s 2017 holding, “TC Heartland, effectively reviving Section 1400(b) as the focus of venue in patent cases.” Section 1400(b) provides that “[a]ny civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” Cray does not maintain a regular and established place of business in the district. View "In re: Cray, Inc." on Justia Law

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Inselberg is the inventor systems by which audiences interact with live events, such as concerts and football games. In 2010, his company received a $500,000 loan from Bisignano, who received security interest in the patents.Federal authorities brought criminal charges against Inselberg. He defaulted on the loan. Inselberg and Bisignano entered into an agreement that purported to convey the patent portfolio to Bisignano. , Bisignano became the CEO of First Data. In 2014, Inselberg began claiming that the assignment was invalid.and that First Data was infringing. Bisignano granted First Data a royalty-free license and sought a federal declaratory judgment regarding the validity of the license agreement and ownership of the patents, to preempt "an inevitable infringement action. Inselberg filed a complaint in New Jersey Superior Court, asserting only state law claims. Bisignano and First Data filed an answer with counterclaims, seeking declaratory judgments of noninfringement and invalidity, then removed the action to federal court. The Federal Circuit affirmed a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. Inselberg’s claims were all state law property rights claims; the alleged patent law issues were “incidental and contingent.” It did not become a patent case merely because some of the damages might be measured based on “forgone royalties. Bisignano remains the owner of the patents unless a state court invalidates the assignment; the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider the matter. View "First Data Corp. v. Inselberg" on Justia Law

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Under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA), 25 U.S.C. 4101–4243, tribes receive direct funding to provide affordable housing to their members. Grants are based on factors including “[t]he number of low-income housing dwelling units . . . owned or operated” by the tribes on NAHASDA’s effective date. Grantees are limited in how and when they may dispense the funds. The Tribes received NAHASDA block grants. In 2001, a HUD Inspector General report concluded that HUD had improperly allocated their funds because the formula applied by HUD had included housing that did not qualify. HUD provided the Tribes with the opportunity to dispute HUD’s findings, then eliminated the ineligible units from the data and deducted the amount overfunded from subsequent allocations. The Tribes brought suit under the Tucker Act and Indian Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491(a)(1) and 1505. The Claims Court held that NAHASDA is money mandating, but that the failure to give a hearing alone did not support an illegal exaction claim. Because the finding that NAHASDA is money-mandating was dispositive concerning jurisdiction, the government filed an interlocutory appeal. The Federal Circuit vacated and ordered dismissal for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.The underlying claim is not for presently due money damages but is for larger strings-attached NAHASDA grants—including subsequent supervision and adjustment—and, therefore, for equitable relief. NAHASDA does not authorize a free and clear transfer of money. View "Lummi Tribe v. United States" on Justia Law

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Prime Hospitals provide inpatient services under the Medicare program, submitting payment claims to private contractors, who make initial reimbursement determinations. Prime alleged that many short-stay claims were subject to post-payment review and denied. Prime appealed through the Medicare appeal process. Prime alleged short-stay claims audits were part of a larger initiative that substantially increased claim denials and that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was overwhelmed by the number of appeals. CMS began offering partial payment (68 percent) in exchange for dismissal of appeals. Prime alleged that it executed CMS's administrative settlement agreement so that CMS was contractually required to pay their 5,079 Medicare appeals ($23,205,245). CMS ultimately refused to allow the Prime to participate because it was aware of ongoing False Claims Act cases or investigations involving the facilities. Prime alleged that the settlement agreement did not authorize that exclusion. The district court denied a motion to dismiss Prime’s suit but transferred it to the Court of Federal Claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part. The breach of contract claim is fundamentally a suit to enforce a contract and does not arise under the Medicare Act, so the Claims Court has exclusive jurisdiction under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491. That court does not have jurisdiction, however, over Prime’s alternative claims seeking declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief from an alleged secret and illegal policy to prevent and delay Prime from exhausting administrative remedies. View "Alvarado Hospital, LLC v. Cochran" on Justia Law

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Under 42 U.S.C. 1485, the USDA's Rural Housing Service (RHS) makes loans for construction of affordable rental housing. From 1972-1982, each of 10 limited partnerships (with a common general partner, Olsen) entered into a 50-year loan agreement that stated that each borrower could pay off the loan and convert its properties to conventional housing after 15 or 20 years. The 1987 Emergency Low Income Housing Preservation Act, 42 U.S.C. 1472(c)), provided that before accepting prepayment, the USDA must attempt to enter into an agreement with the borrower. In 2002, Olsen was negotiating to sell to a nonprofit organization. He notified the RHS of “intent . . . to convert [some] units into conventional housing” and sought approval to pay off the mortgages. RHS responded with a checklist. Olsen did not proceed; the potential acquirer decided against purchasing the properties. In 2011, Olsen submitted more definite prepayment requests. RHS responded with an incentive offer concerning four properties, which Olsen accepted, remaining in the program. For three other properties, RHS informed Olsen that prepayment was not an option. Olsen purportedly believed that pursuing prepayment on any properties was futile. He did not submit additional applications. In 2013, the partnerships sued, alleging that the government, through the 1987 enactment or the 2011 correspondence, violated their prepayment rights. The Federal Circuit reversed the Claims Court's dismissal. The 2002 correspondence did not trigger the RHS’s duty to accept prepayment; RHS did not take any steps inconsistent with prepayment. The government did not breach its contractual obligation in 2002. Because the alleged breaches occurred no earlier than 2011, the contract claims are not barred by the six-year limitations period. The Claims Court implicitly premised the dismissal of takings claims on the same erroneous rationale. View "Airport Road Associates, Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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AIA sued Avid for infringement of patents directed to research technologies stemming from the discovery of a genetic mutation that is associated with early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Mullan is named as the sole inventor of both patents. Avid responded that AIA lacked standing to assert the patents and that Sexton, AIA’s founder, and Mullan orchestrated a scheme to appropriate for themselves inventions from Imperial College in London and the University of South Florida. AIA claimed that Dr. Mullan was properly named as sole inventor and that his employer, USF, waived any ownership rights. The district court held a jury trial on standing, in which 12 witnesses testified and over 200 exhibits were introduced. The jury determined that USF did not knowingly and intentionally waive its ownership rights and that Dr. Hardy was a co-inventor; the court found AIA lacked standing and entered judgment for Avid. The Federal Circuit summarily affirmed. Avid sought attorney’s fees. The district court allowed the parties to submit briefing, evidence, and declarations and held a hearing, then awarded Avid $3,943,317.70 in fees. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting AIA’s argument that the Seventh Amendment requires a jury trial to decide the facts forming the basis to award attorney’s fees under Patent Act section 285. The district court did not err by making factual findings not foreclosed by the jury’s verdict on standing; AIA’s due process rights were not violated. View "AIA America, Inc. v. Avid Radiopharmaceuticals" on Justia Law

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The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, 42 U.S.C. 262, establishes a scheme for adjudicating claims of patent infringement in the FDA's approval of “biological products.” To obtain FDA approval, the sponsor of a new biological product must demonstrate that it is “safe, pure, and potent.” For a “biosimilar” product based on an approved “reference” product, a party may submit an abbreviated “subsection (k)” application that “piggybacks” on the showing made for an approved reference product but must provide the reference product's sponsor with its subsection (k) application and information that describes the manufacturing process. The parties then collaborate to identify patents for immediate litigation. The second phase is triggered by the applicant’s notice of commercial marketing and involves any patents that were included on the lists but not previously litigated. Hospira's subsection (k) application sought approval of a biosimilar of EPOGEN®, Amgen’s FDA-approved product, Although Amgen asserted that Hospira failed to disclose the composition of the cell-culture medium used during manufacturing, the parties began identifying patents. Amgen claimed that it could not assess the reasonableness of asserting infringement claims concerning other patents for culturing cells and moved to compel discovery on the composition of Hospira’s cell-culture medium in its suit on listed patents. The court denied Amgen’s motion, stating that the information had no relevance to the asserted patents. Amgen appealed that interlocutory order. The Federal Circuit dismissed, holding that it lacked jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine and that Amgen failed to satisfy the prerequisites for mandamus. View "Amgen, Inc.. v. Hospira, Inc.." on Justia Law

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NexLearn sued Allen in Kansas, alleging patent infringement and breach of contract. The companies had entered into a nondisclosure agreement to allow Allen to try NexLearn’s software, SimWriter®. Allen accessed SimWriter several times, then stated it was no longer interested in a deal with NexLearn, and developed its software, ZebraZapps. The agreement stated Kansas law governs the agreement. Allen, a Minnesota corporation with its principal place of business in Minnesota, argued it was not subject to Kansas jurisdiction, due to its limited contacts with the forum, which amounted to a single sale unrelated to ZebraZapps, and represented less than 1% of its five-year revenue. It argued the choice-of-law provision did not subject it to Kansas jurisdiction because NexLearn’s contract claim was supplemental to its patent claim, requiring NexLearn to establish personal jurisdiction over its infringement claim to bring its contract claim. NexLearn responded that Allen agreed to a License Agreement when it accessed SimWriter, specifying that “any dispute arising out of or related to this Agreement or the Product” must be brought in Kansas; that Allen “continually sent direct emails regarding ZebraZapps” to NexLearn employees; that Allen included Kansas in the dropdown menu on its ZebraZapps website; and summarized Allen’s activities with a trade association, which disseminated a magazine to Kansas residents that included Allen’s advertisement. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. Allen’s website, plus its contacts with NexLearn create only an “attenuated affiliation” with Kansas, not a “substantial connection” as required for specific jurisdiction. View "NexLearn, LLC v. Allen Interactions, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Presumptive service connection exists for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War and have chronic: undiagnosed illness; medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness (MUCMI); or any diagnosed illness as determined by the Secretary, 38 U.S.C. 1117(a)(2). VA regulations define MUCMI as “a diagnosed illness without conclusive pathophysiology or etiology, that is characterized by overlapping symptoms and signs and has features such as fatigue, pain, disability out of proportion to physical findings, and inconsistent demonstration of laboratory abnormalities. Chronic multisymptom illnesses of partially understood etiology and pathophysiology, such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis, will not be considered medically unexplained.”. Both the statute and regulation identify sleep disturbances and signs or symptoms involving the respiratory system as possible MUCMI manifestations. The VA revised its M21-1 Manual, changing the definition of MUCMI to require “both an inconclusive pathology, and an inconclusive etiology.” Under the subsection “Signs and Symptoms of Undiagnosed Illnesses or MUCMIs,” the VA added, “Sleep apnea cannot be presumptively service-connected (SC) under the provisions of 38 C.F.R. 3.317 since it is a diagnosable condition.” The Federal Circuit dismissed a veterans’ group’s petition for review for lack of jurisdiction, reasoning that the revisions are not binding and not reviewable under 38 U.S.C. 502. View "Disabled American Veterans v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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Snyder represented a veteran, Beck, under a 2001 fee agreement (38 U.S.C. 5904). Eight months later, Snyder requested the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to cancel his fee agreement. In 2003 the VA awarded past-due benefits based on a 100% disability rating effective 1992. Snyder sought attorney fees. A VA regional officer (RO) determined that Snyder was entitled to $41,920.47, deductible from the past-due benefits. Beck filed notice of disagreement. Beck died. His widow sought to recover the disputed fees as accrued benefits. The RO denied that request. The Board dismissed Beck’s dispute over attorney fees, citing 38 C.F.R. 20.1302, and remanded Mrs. Beck’s claim. The RO determined Mrs. Beck could not recover the disputed attorney fees because her husband’s claim ceased to exist upon his death. She appealed. The VA’s General Counsel published a precedential opinion stating: A claim, pending at the time of a veteran’s death, challenging an attorney’s entitlement to payment of attorney fees under section 5904 from the veteran’s retroactive periodic monetary benefits may provide a basis for an accrued benefits claim under section 5121, because such a claim concerns entitlement to periodic monetary benefits allegedly due and unpaid to the veteran at the time of death. The Federal Circuit dismissed Snyder’s appeal. That 38 C.F.R. 20.1302 requires dismissal of a veteran’s appeal upon his death has no bearing on a claimant’s separate entitlement to accrued benefits under section 5121. The attorney fee dispute remains pending. View "Snyder v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law