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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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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

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The “effective date of an award” of disability compensation to a veteran “shall not be earlier than the date” the veteran’s application for such compensation is received by the VA. 38 U.S.C. 5110(a)(1). Section 5110(b)(1) provides an exception that permits an earlier effective date if the VA receives the application within one year of the veteran’s discharge from military service: under such circumstances, the effective date of the award shall date back to “the day following the date of the veteran’s discharge or release.”Arellano filed his application more than 30 years after he was discharged from the Navy, he argued that section 5110(b)(1)’s one-year period should be equitably tolled to afford his award an earlier effective date reaching back to the day after his discharge. The Veterans Court denied Arellano an effective date earlier than the date his disability benefits application was received by the VA. The Federal Circuit previously held that 5110(b)(1) is not a statute of limitations amenable to equitable tolling but merely establishes an effective date for the payment of benefits, thereby categorically foreclosing equitable tolling. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to Arellano, declining to overrule that precedent, stating that the statutory text evinces clear intent to foreclose equitable tolling of section 5110(b)(1)’s one-year period. View "Arellano v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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In 2006 Heat On-The-Fly began using a new fracking technology on certain jobs. Heat’s owner later filed a patent application regarding the process but failed to disclose 61 public uses of the process that occurred over a year before the application was filed. This application led to the 993 patent. Heat asserted that patent against several parties. In 2014, Phoenix acquired Heat and the patent. Chandler alleges that enforcement of the 993 patent continued in various forms. In an unrelated 2018 suit, the Federal Circuit affirmed a holding that the knowing failure to disclose prior uses of the fracking process rendered the 993 patent unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.Chandler filed a “Walker Process” monopolization action under the Sherman Act, which required that the antitrust-defendant obtained the patent by knowing and willful fraud on the patent office and maintained and enforced that patent with knowledge of the fraudulent procurement, and proof of “all other elements necessary to establish a Sherman Act monopolization claim.” The Federal Circuit transferred the case to the Fifth Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over cases from the Northern District of Texas. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because this case does not arise under the patent laws of the United States. View "Chandler v. Phoenix Services LLC" on Justia Law

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New Vision sued SG in the federal district court in Nevada. SG then filed Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions. The Board declined to respect the forum selection agreement in the parties’ license agreement, which referred to “exclusive” jurisdiction in the appropriate federal or state court in the state of Nevada, and proceeded to a final decision, finding the claims at issue as well as proposed substitute claims, patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Board’s decisions for consideration of the forum selection clause in light of its 2019 “Arthrex” decision. Because Arthrex issued after the Board’s final-written decisions and after New Vision sought Board rehearing, New Vision has not waived its Arthrex challenge by raising it for the first time in its opening brief. The Board’s rejection of the parties’ choice of forum is subject to judicial review; section 324(e) does not bar review of Board decisions “separate . . . to the in[stitu]tion decision.” View "New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc." on Justia Law

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PerDiemCo, a Texas LLC, is the assignee of the patents, which relate to electronic logging devices. PerDiemCo’s current sole owner, officer, and employee, Babayi, lives and works in Washington, D.C. PerDiemCo rents office space in Texas, which Babayi has never visited. Trimble and ISE, Trimble’s wholly owned subsidiary, manufacture and sell GPS devices. Trimble, incorporated in Delaware, is headquartered in California. ISE is an Iowa LLC with an Iowa principal place of business.Babayi sent a letter to ISE accusing ISE of using technology covered by PerDiemCo’s patents, stating that PerDiemCo “actively licenc[es]” its patents and listed companies that had entered into nonexclusive licenses after the companies had “collectively spent tens of millions of dollars" on litigation. Babayi offered a nonexclusive license. ISE forwarded the letter to Trimble’s Chief IP Counsel, Brodsky, in Colorado, who explained that Trimble would be PerDiemCo’s contact. Babayi replied that PerDiemCo also believed that Trimble’s products infringed its patents. The parties communicated by letter, telephone, and email at least 22 times before Trimble and ISE sought a declaratory judgment of noninfringement in the Northern District of California. The district court held that it lacked specific personal jurisdiction over PerDiemCo. The Federal Circuit reversed. In patent litigation, communications threatening suit or proposing settlement or patent licenses can establish personal jurisdiction. A broad set of a defendant’s contacts with a forum are relevant to the minimum contacts analysis. Here, the minimum contacts or purposeful availment test was satisfied. View "Trimble Inc. v. PerDiemCo LLC" on Justia Law

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Qualcomm sued Apple in the Southern District of California for infringing claims of two patents. Apple sought inter partes review. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board held Apple did not prove that claims in the two patents would have been obvious. Before the filing of appeals, Apple and Qualcomm settled all litigation between the two companies worldwide. Based on that settlement, the parties jointly moved to dismiss Qualcomm’s district court action with prejudice, which the district court granted.The Federal Circuit dismissed appeals from the inter partes review for lack of standing. Apple has not alleged that the validity of the patents will affect its contract rights (ongoing royalty obligations) in the settlement. The possibility of a future suit is too speculative to confer standing, as is the likelihood that 35 U.S.C. 315(e) would estop Apple from arguing that the patents would have been obvious in future disputes. Apple has failed to show an injury in fact based on potential future allegations that its products infringe the patents. View "Apple Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc." on Justia Law

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The parties compete in the market for veterinary orthopedic implants. DePuy sued VOI, alleging patent infringement. The district court entered the parties’ joint proposed protective order, designating certain information as “Confidential Material” and “Highly Confidential Material—Attorney Eyes Only.” The information designated “Highly Confidential” encompassed “supplier . . . names and identifying information.” DePuy filed under seal an unopposed motion for leave to amend the complaint to join as a defendant the manufacturer of VOI’s accused products, disclosing the manufacturer’s identity and information about the business relationship between the manufacturer and VOI.According to VOI, the manufacturer identity and other information are Highly Confidential and constitute trade secrets, so that it was necessary to file the amended complaint under seal, with only a redacted version publicly available. DePuy argued that the manufacturer’s public website advertises its business; that VOI and the manufacturer have no confidentiality agreement; that the manufacturer ships its products to VOI using a public carrier; and that a third party was aware that the manufacturer supplied products to VOI.The district court ordered that the amended complaint be filed on the public record without redaction of either the manufacturer's identity or other information. The order did not specifically analyze the other information. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in performing its obligation to ensure public access to court documents. View "DePuy Synthes Products, Inc. v. Veterinary Orthopedic Implants, Inc." on Justia Law

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Taylor Energy leased and operated Gulf of Mexico oil and gas properties, on the Outer Continental Shelf, offshore Louisiana. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed those operations, causing oil leaks. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Oil Pollution Act required Taylor to decommission the site and stop the leaks. Taylor and the Department of the Interior developed a plan. Interior approved Taylor’s assignments of its leases to third parties with conditions requiring financial assurances. Three agreements addressed how Taylor would fund a trust account and how Interior would disburse payments. Taylor began decommissioning work. In 2009, Taylor proposed that Taylor “make the full final deposit into the trust account,” without any offsets, and retain all insurance proceeds. Interior rejected Taylor’s proposal. Taylor continued the work. In 2011, Taylor requested reimbursement from the trust account for rig downtime costs. Interior denied the request. In 2018, the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) affirmed Interior’s 2009 and 2011 Decisions.Taylor filed suit in the Claims Court, asserting contract claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit, rejecting “Taylor’s attempt to disguise its regulatory obligations as contractual ones,” and stating an IBLA decision must be appealed to a district court.In 2018, Taylor filed suit in a Louisiana district court, seeking review of the IBLA’s 2018 decision and filed a second complaint in the Claims Court, alleging breach of contract. On Taylor's motion, the district court transferred the case, citing the Tucker Act. The Federal Circuit reversed. The Claims Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Taylor is challenging the IBLA Decision and must do so in district court under the APA. View "Taylor Energy Co., L.L.C. v. Department of the Interior" on Justia Law