Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Brazos filed lawsuits in the Western District of Texas charging Juniper, a Delaware corporation headquartered in California, with infringing patents that had been assigned to Brazos. Juniper moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of California, 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). Juniper argued that Brazos “describes itself as a patent assertion entity” that “does not seem to conduct any business” from its recently-opened office in Waco other than filing patent lawsuits. The assignment agreement by which Brazos received much of its patent portfolio lists a California address for Brazos; only one of the officers listed on its website resides in Texas. Brazos’s CEO and its president reside in California. The accused products were primarily designed, developed, marketed, and sold from Juniper’s headquarters within the Northern District of California; potential witnesses who would be expected to testify as to the structure, function, marketing, and sales of the accused products are located in California. Juniper had a small office in Austin, Texas.The Federal Circuit vacated the denial of the motion to transfer and granted the petition. The “center of gravity of the action” was clearly in California: several of the most important factors strongly favor the transferee court. No factor favors retaining the case in Texas. View "In Re Juniper Networks, Inc." on Justia Law

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Wanxiang is a U.S. importer for Wanxiang Group, an automotive parts manufacturing company headquartered in China. In 1994-2001, Group and Wanxiang IE participated in Department of Commerce administrative reviews that covered entries of wheel hub assemblies that were subject to a 1987 antidumping duty order. Group and IE were assigned company-specific antidumping duty rates of zero percent. Wanxiang Q did not receive a company-specific antidumping duty rate because it did not participate in the reviews. Following a 2012 audit of Wangxiang, Customs found that some of the audited entries were imports from Q, subject to the China country-wide rate of 92.84%, and that, based on the sampling results, Wanxiang had underpaid dumping duties. In 2019, Customs issued a Penalty Notice.Wanxiang did not protest under 19 U.S.C. 1514 and has not made any payment but filed a complaint before the Trade Court, asserting jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(i)(2) and (4). The court dismissed, concluding that it lacked “residual” jurisdiction because relief could have been available under a section 1581(c) action. Wangxiang has not shown that such relief would have been manifestly inadequate. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Wanxiang could have challenged the assessments by a protest under 19 U.S.C. 1514 and, if unsuccessful, by appealing to the Trade Court under 1581(a). Alternatively, Wanxiang could have initiated a test shipment and sought, as a new shipper, an administrative review, during which it could have argued the issues it raised in its complaint; the results of that review could have been challenged under 19 U.S.C. 1516a, invoking Trade Court jurisdiction under 1581(c). View "Wanxiang America Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Larson served on active duty for training in the Navy Reserves in 1988 and on active duty in the Navy, 1989-1993. He gained a substantial amount of weight before, during, and after his active service. In 2009, Larson filed a claim for service connection for multiple conditions, including obesity and dysmetabolic syndrome (DMS). The VA denied the claims in 2010. The Board affirmed that denial in 2016, holding that neither DMS nor obesity was a disability because neither condition is ratable under the VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities. The Veterans Court affirmed the denial of service connection for DMS and obesity, holding that it lacked jurisdiction to review a Board determination of what constitutes a disability under 38 U.S.C. 1110 because such inquiry amounted to a review of the rating schedule, prohibited by 38 U.S.C. 7252(b).The Federal Circuit reversed, noting that it has previously held that the Veterans Court has jurisdiction to review a Board determination that a claimed condition did not constitute a disability for purposes of section 1110. Larson seeks only to establish a service connection for his conditions and is not asking the Veterans Court to invalidate or revise any portion of the rating schedule. View "Larson v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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In 1982, while serving in the Air Force in Germany, Jones was struck in the eye by the door of an armored personnel carrier. He developed intense headaches; it became increasingly difficult for Jones to perform his duties. A 1988 Clinical Resume reflects that Jones had developed “intermittent right cranial nerve 4th palsy associated with chronic right retro-orbital stabbing pain, usually occurring during the late afternoon or night.” Jones described "a nearly constant headache which was relieved only with repetitive doses of intramuscular Demoral.” A Physical Evaluation Board recommended that Jones be discharged with severance pay based on a 10% disability rating for “Post-traumatic pain syndrome manifest[ing] as headaches.”Jones was honorably discharged with severance pay. In 1989, his discharge was amended to reflect that his injury was combat-related. Effective in 2017, the VA awarded Jones a 100% disability rating. Jones petitioned the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records for changes to his record that would entitle him to a disability retirement dating back to 1988, when he was discharged, 10 U.S.C. 1201. The Board denied Jones’s petition. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court: the claim for disability retirement pay and benefits was a claim under a money-mandating statute, as required by the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491(a)(1), but jurisdiction was lacking because the claim was barred by the six-year statute of limitations, 28 U.S.C. 2501. View "Jones v. United States" on Justia Law

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LBI is the corporate parent of retailers in the apparel and home product field, including Victoria’s Secret entities. LBI’s subsidiaries each maintain their own corporate, partnership, or limited liability company status, identity, and structure. Each Defendant is incorporated in Delaware. The LBI Non-Store Defendants do not have any employees, stores, or other physical presence in the Eastern District of Texas. The Store Defendants each operate at least one retail location in the District. Andra sued Defendants for infringement of the 498 patent, which claims inventions directed to displaying articles on a webpage, including applying distinctive characteristics to thumbnails and displaying those thumbnails in a “master display field.” Andra’s infringement claims are directed to the victoriassecret.com website, related sites, and smartphone applications that contain similar functionality.Defendants moved to dismiss the suit for improper venue under 28 U.S.C. 1406(a), or in the alternative, to transfer the lawsuit to the Southern District of Ohio, arguing that venue was improper because Stores did not commit acts of infringement in the District and the Non-Store Defendants did not have regular and established places of business in the District. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Non-Store Defendants for improper venue. Testimony by one Stores employee supported a finding of the alleged infringing acts in the District. View "Andra Group, LP v. Victoria's Secret Stores, LLC" on Justia Law

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Limited is the assignee of the 180 patent, which is directed generally to a display unit configured to receive video signals from an external video source. Limited sued LG for patent infringement. After the district court granted Limited leave to join Hitachi as plaintiffs to address a standing challenge brought by LG, the case proceeded to trial. The jury found that the accused LG televisions infringed two claims of the patent, that the claims were not invalid, and that LG’s infringement was willful, and awarded Plaintiffs $45 million in damages.In September 2019, the district court denied LG’s post-trial motions regarding infringement, invalidity, and willfulness but ordered further briefing on damages. On April 22, 2020, the district court granted LG’s motion for a new trial on damages. On May 8, 2020, LG filed a notice of interlocutory appeal, seeking to challenge the denials of LG’s post-trial motions regarding infringement, invalidity, and willfulness, all of which were decided in the September Order. LG also challenged the pretrial joinder decision, arguing that, without such joinder, Limited lacked statutory authority to bring suit. The Federal Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. LG’s notice of appeal was not filed within 30 days of the date at which the liability issues became final except for an accounting. View "Mondis Technology Ltd. v. LG Electronics Inc." on Justia Law

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Tadlock served in the Army, 1982-2003, including service in the Persian Gulf. In 2010, he suffered a pulmonary embolism (PE) that resulted in a heart attack. Tadlock sought presumptive service connection under 38 U.S.C. 1117, which refers to a “qualifying chronic disability” for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War. The regulations limit the definition of “qualifying chronic disability” to one that, “[b]y history, physical examination, and laboratory tests cannot be attributed to any known clinical diagnosis.” Tadlock underwent a final medical examination by a VA physician, who explained that Tadlock’s PE “is not an undiagnosed illness.” The Board of Veterans Appeals based its denial of service connection on that opinion.Neither the Board nor the examiner made any finding that Tadlock’s condition was not a “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness” (MUCMI). Tadlock contended that the statute expressly includes both “an undiagnosed illness” and a MUCMI. The Veterans Court found that Tadlock's PE was "not characterized by overlapping signs and symptoms and unique features ... and disproportional disability when compared with physical findings.” It held that "any error in the Board decision regarding whether his diagnosed illness could count as a MUCMI is harmless.”The Federal Circuit vacated. The Veterans Court exceeded its authority in making a fact-finding in the first instance that Tadlock’s illness did not qualify as a MUCMI because of a lack of overlapping symptoms. The Veterans Court’s jurisdiction to consider prejudicial error does not give it the right to make de novo findings of fact or otherwise resolve matters that are open to debate. View "Tadlock v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Straw claims that he was injured as an infant by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and that his injury resulted in a mental disability. Straw previously sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). That action was combined with similar cases in a Multidistrict Litigation proceeding in the Northern District of Georgia, which ruled that Straw’s FTCA claims were barred by North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed; the Supreme Court denied certiorari.Straw then filed suit, seeking $6,000,000 in compensatory damages, arguing that the rulings of the Georgia district court constituted a judicial taking of his tort claims and the damages he sought in that action. The Claims Court dismissed his complaint, citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed. By claiming that the Georgia district court and the Eleventh Circuit had caused a taking of his personal-injury cause of action, Straw was effectively asking the Claims Court to overturn the decisions of those courts that his FTCA claim was time-barred. The court noted that Straw’s claim sounded in tort, given the underlying personal bodily harm; tort claims are expressly excluded from the jurisdiction of the Claims Court under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491. View "Straw v. United States" on Justia Law

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TRI filed entries of citric acid, identifying India as the country of origin, which allowed TRI to file the subject entries as type 01 “consumption” entries, which are not subject to duties, rather than type 03 “consumption—antidumping (AD)/countervailing duty (CVD)” entries. Customs requested information regarding the entries. TRI responded with documentation of the purchase and receipt of citric acid monohydrate from suppliers in India and the processing of the citric acid monohydrate into citric acid anhydrous. TRI admits that the origin of the citric acid monohydrate is unknown. Customs extended liquidation of the entries, 19 U.S.C. 1504(b)(1). Customs’ Office of Laboratory and Scientific Services investigated the processing of the citric acid in India; Customs determined that the product was not substantially transformed and therefore not a product of India. The entries would be liquidated with the applicable consumption, anti-dumping and countervailing duties.TRI filed suit in the Court of International Trade, asserting residual jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(I). Separately, TRI also protested Customs’ liquidation of its entries. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trade Court’s dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction because jurisdiction was available under other section 1581 subsections. Where a plaintiff asserts section 1581(i) jurisdiction, it “bears the burden of showing that another subsection is either unavailable or manifestly inadequate.” TRI has not established that a scope determination or a protest were unavailable or manifestly inadequate. View "TR International Trading Co., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Ikorongo Texas was formed as a Texas LLC and, a month later, filed patent infringement complaints in the Western District of Texas. Although "Texas" claims to be unrelated to Ikorongo Tech, a North Carolina LLC, both are run out of the same North Carolina office; as of March 2020, the same five individuals “own[ed] all of the issued and outstanding membership interests” in both. "Tech" owns the patents at issue. Days before the complaints were filed, Tech assigned to Texas exclusive rights to sue for infringement and collect damages for those patents within specified parts of Texas while retaining those rights in the rest of the country. First amended complaints named both entities as co-plaintiffs and do not distinguish between infringement in the Western District of Texas and infringement elsewhere.The defendants moved under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to transfer the suits to the Northern District of California, arguing that three of the five accused third-party applications were developed in and potential witnesses and sources of proof were located in Northern California while no application was developed or researched in and no sources of proof were in Western Texas. The court denied the motions, reasoning that Ikorongo Texas’s rights could not have been infringed in California.The Federal Circuit directed the lower court to grant the transfer motions. The case “might have been brought” in California; the presence of Ikorongo Texas is recent, ephemeral, and artificial—a maneuver in anticipation of litigation. The district court here assigned too little weight to the relative convenience of California and overstated concerns about judicial resources and inconsistent results; other public interest factors favor transfer. View "In re Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law