Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Order Awarding Attorney Fees Triggers Collateral Estoppel Even Though Amount of Fees Remains Undetermined

Following a jury trial finding plaintiff lacked standing to assert the patents-in-suit in a related case, and a finding in that case that defendant was entitled to an award of attorney fees, the court granted defendant's motion for attorneys' fees in the instant case. "'[T]o be "final" for [issue preclusion] purposes, a decision need not possess "finality" in the sense of 28 U.S.C. § 1291,' which establishes the jurisdiction of the courts of appeals over final decisions of the district courts. Rather, "the proper query . . . is whether the court’s decision on the issue as to which preclusion is sought is final." . . . Here, [the other] court found, in a reasoned opinion, that the case is 'exceptional' and granted the defendants’ motions for attorney’s fees pursuant to 35 U.S.C § 285. . . . Because the only issue left unresolved is the amount of reasonable attorney’s fees that the defendants incurred, the [other] court’s determinations that the case is exceptional under § 285 and that fees are warranted are sufficiently firm to be accorded conclusive affect. . . . [T]hat Plaintiff might appeal the [other] court’s decision does not affect whether collateral estoppel applies."

Alzheimer's Institute of America v. Elan Corporation PLC, et al, 3-10-cv-00482 (CAND June 5, 2015, Order) (Laporte, M.J.)

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