After all parties agreed to settle the case, the parties jointly moved to vacate a sanctions order. The district court declined to vacate the sanctions order, even though plaintiff’s counsel had apparently complied with the order, because the order was entered by a prior judge in a detailed ruling.
After the case was closed, the parties remained subject to an Order for Rule 11 Sanctions that required Defendants to file an agreed apportionment amount of the total sanctions award that would be received by each defendant. In reaching its conclusion, the district court noted that “[t]he important consideration here is that the Sanctions Order resolved a dispute that began nearly five years earlier in 2010 when all three defendants filed motions for sanctions against Raylon for asserting frivolous infringement claims. . . . During that period, the presiding judge became well familiar with the details of the case and the underlying request for sanctions. See Docket No. 164 at 38:14-21 (orally denying the request for sanctions at the Markman hearing), Docket No. 147 (written order denying the request for sanctions), Docket No. 168 (written order denying Defendants’ motions for attorneys’ fees and costs), Raylon, LLC v. Complus Data Innovations, Inc., 700 F.3d 1361, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2012) cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 94 (2013) (Federal Circuit’s reversing and remanding “for a determination of an appropriate sanction”), the Sanctions Order.
The district court explained that the plaintiff counsel had now complied with the Sanctions Order and was now asking the district court to vacate it. But the district court declined to do so, even though all parties joined in the request. “Ultimately, the undersigned does not have the necessary history or experience with the case to supplant the prior court’s or the Federal Circuit’s judgment. The Sanctions Order is a careful resolution of a lengthy dispute, and the parties–despite their joint request–have not provided a compelling reason or persuasive authority to disturb the result. Plaintiff’s counsel states that the instant request ‘simply recognizes that [counsel] has fully complied with the Sanctions Orders, the parties have reached a settlement, and the purpose of these Sanctions Orders has been fulfilled and served based on [counsel’s] compliance with those Court’s Orders.'”
The district court did, however, noted that counsel had complied with all orders of the court. “If there is any doubt, the Court expressly states that Plaintiff’s counsel has fully complied with all of the Court’s orders, including the Sanctions Order. The Court further notes that since it inherited the case, all counsel have conducted themselves ethically and professionally at all times. The fact that Defendants, who fought for five years and through an appeal for their sanctions request, either join with or do not oppose the request speaks volumes. However, this Court is not free to revisit or otherwise vacate a reasoned and carefully considered sanctions order entered by a prior judge with extensive knowledge and familiarity with the case simply because the sanctioned attorneys have complied with the order.”
Accordingly, the district court declined to vacate the sanction order entered by the previous judge.
Raylon LLC v. Complus Data Innovations, Co., Case No. 6:09-CV-355 (E.D. Tex. March 23, 2016)
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.