NuVasive Inc. (NSDQ:NUVA) won a big legal victory yesterday when a federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s $60 million decision in favor of NeuroVision Medical Products, rebuking the lower court judge in the process.
The decision means the case pitting the medical device companies against each other will be re-tried under a different district court judge.
Under Judge Manuel Real of the U.S. District Court for Central California, a jury in October 2010 found that NuVasive infringed the NeuroVision trademark with some of its neuromonitoring products. NuVasive appealed, arguing that Real "fundamentally misunderstood trademark law" and "exhibited hostility toward NuVasive’s counsel in front of the jury."
In June, a trio of judges at the appeals court expressed skepticism over the decision. Yesterday, they vacated Real’s decision and sent the case back to the Central California district to be tried under a different judge.
"We find that reassignment is warranted on remand because the district court ignored our precedent, persistently cut off or excluded relevant testimony, and repeatedly instructed the jury incorrectly," the judges wrote, according to court documents. "In light of the district court’s adherence to a view of trademark law that is at odds with clear 9th Circuit precedent, there is reason to believe that the district judge may ‘have substantial difficulty in putting out of his … mind previously expressed views or findings determined to be erroneous.’
"We therefore direct the clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to assign this case to a different district court judge upon remand," the judges wrote.
NuVasive said it expects the new trial to begin "in the coming months," according to a regulatory filing.