Thursday, April 7, 2016

District Court Lacks Jurisdiction to Correct “Logically Incomprehensible” Verdict More Than 28 Days After Judgment

The court denied defendant's motion for new trial due to an inconsistent jury verdict because defendant waived the issue and the court lacked jurisdiction to sua sponte order a new trial. "The verdict form in this case is best categorized as a general verdict form with special questions. Because [defendant] did not raise the issue of inconsistency before the jury was dismissed, the issue has been waived. This waiver is unfortunate because of the obvious and irreconcilable inconsistency of some portions of the jury verdict. . . . The jury ruled that dependent claims of the [patents-in-suit] were infringed, but that independent claims were not infringed. This is legally unsupportable. . . . [Defendant's] waiver places the court in the uncomfortable position of allowing a logically incomprehensible verdict to stand. Ideally, the court would order a new trial in spite of the waiver. . . . But the court's discretion is limited to a window of 28 days after the entry of judgment. After that time frame has passed, the court no longer has the authority to grant a new trial on its own initiative. The 28-day window has long passed, and the court cannot exceed its jurisdictional authority. The jury verdict, though flawed, must stand."

EMC Corporation et. al. v. Zerto, Inc., 1-12-cv-00956 (DED March 31, 2016, Order) (Sleet, J.)

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