Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ROMAG FASTENERS, INC. v. MITZI INT'L HANDBAG & ACCESSORIES

United States District Court, S.D. New York


February 14, 2005.

ROMAG FASTENERS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MITZI INTERNATIONAL HANDBAG AND ACCESSORIES, LTD., Defendant.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEWIS KAPLAN, District Judge

ORDER

The jury in this case found on December 2, 2004 that the defendant willfully infringed plaintiff's '126 patent and awarded damages of $4.5 million. On December 16, plaintiff filed a post-trial memorandum in support of its application for enhanced damages, attorneys fees, prejudgment interest and injunctive relief. (Docket item 64) By order dated January 12, 2005, following the apparent expiration of the time for defendant to respond to the motion, the Court granted the motion in part. Judgment was entered on January 14, 2005. Defendant now moves to withdraw the January 12, 2005 order and the ensuing judgment (docket item 72) and for judgment as a matter of law (docket item 77).

The Motion to Withdraw the Order and Judgment

  As defendant has pointed out, the Court granted plaintiff's post-trial motion for enhanced damages and other relief in the mistaken believe that defendant had defaulted on the motion. As defendant had not been heard fully, defendant's motion to withdraw the January 12, 2005 order and the January 14, 2005 judgment will be granted.

  Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or, Alternatively, for a New Trial

  At the close of the evidence, the Court invited motions. (Tr. 338-43) Defendant made none. Having failed to move for judgment as a matter of law at the close of all the evidence, it may not do so now. E.g., Hilford Chemical Corp. v. Ricoh Electronics, Inc., 875 F.2d 32, 37 (2d Cir. 1989). Its attempts to bring itself within one of the few exceptions to this rule are unconvincing. Indeed, the grounds it asserts in an effort to show manifest injustice are coextensive with the grounds Page 2 supporting the merits of its motion for judgment as a matter of law. If adopted, its argument would excuse all failures to seek judgment as a matter of law at the close of all the proof whenever such a motion would have been meritorious. Moreover, it now seeks judgment on two issues — willfulness and damages — that it did not even raise by motion at the close of the plaintiff's case.

  While this procedural default does not foreclose so much of the motion as seeks a new trial, that branch of the motion is without merit.

  In determining whether to order a new trial on the ground that a verdict is against the weight of the evidence:

"The trial judge, exercising a mature judicial discretion, should view the verdict in the overall setting of the trial; consider the character of the evidence and the complexity or simplicity of the legal principles which the jury was bound to apply to the facts; and abstain from interfering with the verdict unless it is quite clear that the jury has reached a seriously erroneous result. The judge's duty is essentially to see that there is no miscarriage of justice. If convinced that there has been then it is his duty to set the verdict aside; otherwise not."*fn1
  As the Court made plain, it probably would have decided the issue of infringement differently than did the jury had the Court been the trier of fact. That is not to say, however, that the verdict was unsupported by evidence or otherwise infirm. As plaintiff's memorandum demonstrates, the evidence was more than sufficient to support the verdict, and the finding of infringement reflects no miscarriage of justice. See Pl. Mem. 4-13.

  Defendant's argument on wilfulness is far weaker. It presents a highly selective view of the record, ignoring all evidence that is unfavorable to its position. There was substantial evidence that Mitzi was well aware of the '126 patent but failed to obtain advice of counsel before importing and selling infringing snaps. The jury was free to disregard Attorney LaLone's testimony concerning the competence of his opinion, and it was entitled to conclude that defendant did not rely on that opinion in good faith.

  Finally, defendant's plea for a new trial on damages is without merit, substantially for the reasons set forth at pages 16-19 of plaintiff's memorandum.

  Accordingly, the motion for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, for a new trial will be denied. Page 3

  Plaintiff's Motion for Enhanced Damages, Attorney's Fees and Other Relief

  The withdrawal of the January 12, 2005 order and the ensuing judgment revives plaintiff's motion. Nevertheless, having considering defendant's papers, everything that was said in that order remains applicable. The Court adds only the following additional comments:

  The jury, as was its province, resolved the infringement issue in plaintiff's favor. Although, as noted, the Court might have come out the other way on that question, it agrees with the jury's finding of wilfulness. There was persuasive evidence that defendant intended to copy the plaintiff's invention as closely as possible, and its evidence of good faith reliance on competent counsel was not compelling. Defendant's claim of financial hardship is unpersuasive and borders on the disingenuous for the reasons set forth at pages 4 through 6 of plaintiff's memorandum. And even if one were to put aside the discovery misconduct, its frivolous invalidity defense and obstructive refusal to stipulate to the admission of sales summaries support a conclusion of litigation misconduct. Considering all pertinent factors together, a 33 percent enhancement of the damage award is well within the bounds of reason — indeed, it arguably is quite lenient.

  Conclusion

  For the foregoing reasons, as well as those set forth in the January 12, 2005 order, the pending motions are resolved as follows:

  1. Defendant's motion to withdraw the January 12 order and January 14 judgment is granted and those papers are vacated.

  2. Defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, a new trial is denied.

  3. Plaintiff's motion for enhanced damages and other relief is granted to the extent that:

a. Plaintiff shall recover of defendant damages in the amount of $6.0 million together with attorneys' fees and expenses of $428,920.33 and prejudgment interest to be computed by the Clerk at the appropriate rate on the sums listed from the dates indicated below:
From Amount
April 30, 2000 $1,269,938
  April 30, 2001 $1,490,798 Page 4

  April 30, 2002 $1,159,509

  October 31, 2002 $ 579,755

 

The rates applicable from time to time shall be determined in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1961.
b. Plaintiff shall have an injunction in the form annexed as Exhibit F to the joint pretrial order.
c. The Clerk shall enter final judgment in accordance with this order.
The Court has considered all of defendant's other arguments. None warrants a different result.

  SO ORDERED.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.