It’s been a tough stretch in the courtroom for Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE:JNJ) Cordis Corp.
The health care giant’s stent-making unit lost its bid for a new trial in the $482 million patent infringement lawsuit it lost to stent pioneer Dr. Bruce Saffran Tuesday.
That loss followed the failure of its bid to overturn a pair of U.S. Patent Office rules.
A jury in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas awarded $482 million in damages to Saffran after finding that Cordis infringed one of his patents with its Cypher drug-eluting stent.
Judge John Ward later tacked on another $111 million in pre-judgment interest, but ruled that the infringement was not willful – sparing Cordis the possibility of paying triple damages.
Cordis moved for a new trial, claiming that the jury never should have heard evidence of willfulness presented in the trial and that Saffran’s attorney violated a legal precept known as the “Golden Rule.”
Ward ruled Sept. 20 that the jury would have heard the evidence anyway during arguments about other claims in the suit, adding that in order for him to determine the infringement claims he needs to see the evidence of infringement, according to court documents.
“[T]he Court is not convinced a new trial is warranted because of any alleged prejudice suffered by defendants due to the willfulness claims in the trial (or evidence admitted due to the willfulness claims),” Ward wrote.
Ward also denied the claim of violation of the Golden Rule, which bars attorneys from appealing to jurors to put themselves in the plaintiff’s shoes, lest they judge the case from personal bias.
“[T]he Court holds that counsel for plaintiff did not violate the Golden Rule because counsel never asked the jury to step into the plaintiff’s shoes. Rather, counsel stated that, ‘I mean, just imagine how – it’s hard for me to imagine how that would feel, okay?’ Although counsel may have been in the process of starting to ask the jury to step in Dr. Saffran’s shoes (e.g., ‘just imagine how’), counsel quickly corrected himself when he paused (i.e., the dash in the quote) and changed directions,” Ward wrote. “Thus, counsel never asked the jury to step into the plaintiff’s shoes. Finally, even though the court does not hold that counsel for plaintiff violated the ‘Golden Rule,’ defendants never objected to the court and gave the court an opportunity to cure any potential prejudice.”
The $482 million jury award against Cordis, which is bailing out of the coronary stents business, is the largest patent infringement award so far this year, according to Bloomberg.
Cordis lost its legal challenge to the USPTO rules because it filed the lawsuit too late, according to a ruling by a federal judge in Virginia.
Cordis filed the suit in early February 2011, seeking to overturn two USPTO rules instituted in 2004 that it claimed interfered with its ability to subpoena witnesses during patent proceedings. But because the statute of limitations for suing the government is six years, Judge Gerald Lee of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.
California bans DPL Therapy System
A California judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Suarez Corp. Industries from selling its DPL Therapy device after 10 California district attorneys’ offices sued the company.
“It’s a glorified heating pad that sells for $295 to over $300 with misleading advertising,” Kelly Walker, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz County DA’s office, told HealdsburgPatch.com.
The DPL device is a “LED deep penetrating light therapy,” according to Suarez Corp.’s website. It sells for $349, according to the site, which calls that price a 30.5 percent discount from $439.
“The DPL Rejuvenation Light Therapy System is widely used for both joint & muscle pain relief and for skin care. With the DPL, you can enjoy the benefits of photo rejuvenation infrared LED therapy in your own home,” according to the website.
Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman found that Suarez Corp. made unfounded advertising claims and banned the direct marketing company (dba BioTech Research) from selling, delivering or offering to sell the system in the Golden State unless they hew to FDA guidelines.
The lawsuit names 18 other Suarez Corp. products that it or executive Benjamin Suarez touted with “unsubstantiated, false and/or misleading claims,” according to the lawsuit.
It’s not the first legal action against Suarez Corp. or Suarez himself, according to Patch.com, including a 2006 sanction for deceptive marketing of the AbGone dietary supplement, which also contained lead levels above the allowed amount.
The latest lawsuit also seeks $6 million in civil penalties and restitution for Suarez Corp. customers.