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Legal Ethics

McDermott Wins Appeal of $4.4M Trial Court Sanction in Medtronic Patent Case

Posted Apr 26, 2010 5:58 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A federal appeals court today reversed an award of nearly $4.4 million against McDermott Will & Emery and its clients for what a lower court had earlier termed "abuse of advocacy."

Contrary to the trial court's finding that the law firm's attorneys proceeded "cavalierly" and "with full awareness that their case was without merit," in pursuing a patent infringement claim on behalf of client Medtronic Navigation Inc. and related companies, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said McDermott did nothing wrong.

Although the district court based its sanctions award on a finding that the law firm pursued what amounted to a frivolous case, "an examination of each of Medtronic's infringement claims at trial confirms that each was sufficiently reasonable to warrant being litigated to verdict, even though all of them were ultimately rejected by the district court ... and by this court on appeal," the Federal Circuit explains in its 41-page written opinion (PDF).

“I am pleased that the Federal Circuit found that we engaged in proper and zealous advocacy on behalf of our client, Medtronic, in prosecuting its patent infringement claim. While we respect the district court, we stand behind our trial work and are proud of the fact that our work was vindicated after such close study by a Federal Circuit panel,” says McDermott partner Terrence McMahon, partner in a law firm press release. He and partner Vera Elson tried the case.

“We believe in giving 100 percent for our clients, but always within legal and ethical guidelines,” adds Peter John Sacripanti, who serves as co-chair of the law firm. “We are proud of the work performed by Terry McMahon, Vera Elson and our entire team. They are excellent trial lawyers who are committed to giving our clients the best possible representation within the bounds of ethical advocacy, as they did in this case.”

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "McDermott’s Shared Tab for ‘Abuse of Advocacy’ is $4.3M in Attorney Fees"

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